RALEIGH, N.C. -- North Carolina lawmakers approved a bill Tuesday that will expand where concealed handguns are legally allowed.
House bill 937 approved by both the House and Senate allows concealed-carry permit holders to take firearms into bars and restaurants and other places where alcohol is served as long as the owner doesn't expressly forbid it.
The measure will also allow concealed-carry permit holders to store weapons in locked cars on the campus of any public school or university. If made law guns will also be allowed on greenways, playgrounds and other public recreation areas. The bill allows any city our county owned park where that local government votes to forbid concealed weapons, but even then the proposed law will allow holders to keep their gun locked in their car.
"This is a bill that is in fact not balanced. It does not represent the kinds of concerns that gun safety groups have," said Rep. Paul Lubke, (D) District 30. "Those perspectives were perhaps listened to, but they're not included in the bill."
"Responsible people are generally the ones who have concealed carry," said Rep. John Faircloth, (R) District 61. "They don't want to get in trouble. They don't want to ruin what they know was a good constitutional right."
The final bill also dropped a controversial provision that would have repealed the long-standing law requiring a background check and permit issued by county sheriffs for handgun purchases.
"House Bill 937 enables our citizens not to be criminals," said Guilford County Sheriff B.J. Barnes who supported the bill along with the NC Sheriffs Association.
Barnes says the bill stops punishing citizens who are playing by the rules.
"If you got somebody that's got a concealed carry [permit] and they come through the course, they take the training, they pay the money, they go through the background check and everything else, chances are you aren't going to have to worry about those folks at all. But yet we've made criminals out of them by the fact they happen to drive on to school grounds to pick up there kid and happen to have concealed carry on them," Barnes said.
The measure now heads to Republican Gov. Pat McCrory's desk.