Citizens 18 and up could carry concealed handgun without permit under proposed NC law

Updated: Feb. 10, 2017 at 7:27 AM EST
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CHARLOTTE, NC (Mark Price/The Charlotte Observer) - A Cabarrus County state legislator has introduced a bill that would do away with the need for a permit to carry a concealed gun.

Sponsored by Rep. Larry Pittman, House Bill 69 (called the Constitutional Carry Act) would eliminate the need for concealed-carry permits for North Carolinians who carry handguns, but not for larger firearms. Any U.S. citizen 18 years or older would be able to carry a concealed handgun under the proposed legislation, unless otherwise disallowed by state or federal law.

The group Grass Roots North Carolinas says passage of the proposal would make NC the twelfth state with a "constitutional carry" law.

Pittman submitted a similar bill last year that got no traction, but he says the proposal has been changed in an attempt to gain more support in the General Assembly this time around.

"A gun is a tool," said Pittman. "It is only as good or bad as the intentions of the person carrying it. Concealed or open carry makes no difference, except that if we can carry concealed, criminals and terrorists have no idea which lawful citizens just might fight back. The government should not interfere with our freedom to do so."

Pittman's plan would leave the concealed carry permit process in place for anyone who needs a permit while traveling in other states.

Supporters of the law say it would remove the need to have a concealed handgun permit in restaurants, public assemblies, parades, funerals and educational properties.

Anti-gun violence groups opposed the idea when it was proposed by Pittman last year.

Critics called the proposal a "dangerous gun bill that threatened to eliminate some of the state's common-sense public safety laws."

"It would put hidden handguns in the hands of people with no permits to carry and no safety training in how to use guns," said Becky Ceartas of the group North Carolinians Against Gun Violence.

Pittman says his proposal last year faced greater odds because he tried to amend the State Constitution.

"This year, I have taken that part out of the bill," he said. "Another difference is that we are changing the language about not being able to carry concealed if you have an 'other than honorable discharge' from the military to if you have a 'dishonorable discharge.' I seem to remember that a few years ago, I tried to make a change about other weapons. This version only deals with firearms," he said.

Pittman says he has gained the support of a few more pro-gun members this year. "And I have some Senators interested in this bill. So, if they will run a similar bill in the Senate, maybe this time we can get it done."

Ten North Carolina Republican legislators are reportedly supporting the proposal, including primary sponsors Michael Speciale of New Bern, Beverly G. Boswell of Dare County and Jay Adams of Hickory.

It would still be illegal to concealed carry a bowie knife, dirk, dagger, sling shot, loaded cane, metal knuckles, razor, shuriken, stun gun or other deadly weapons except on a person's private property. Pocket knives that cannot be opened by "a throwing, explosive or spring action" are permitted.