By: José Niño
A bill to expand the right to carry in churches is making solid progress in the North Carolina General Assembly.
Last week, the North Carolina Senate passed SB 43, a bill to allow churches that also host schools to let individuals carry concealed weapons on the grounds when schools are not in session. The bill passed with a 31-18 vote in the Senate and will be heading to the North Carolina House for further debate.
WRAL reported that North Carolina already has laws that permit the presence of firearms in places of worship under the condition that the religious leadership approves people carrying in their facilities. North Carolina’s current law, however, prohibits guns on campuses. Per the existing law, religious campuses with their very own private schools fall under the classification of school campus, therefore being subject to gun prohibitions.
In the last few years, several pastors and Republican legislators have called for a change to this law. Roy Cooper, North Carolina’s current Democrat governor, actually vetoed a comprehensive gun bill in 2020 that featured the aforementioned reform.
What was rather curious about this bill is that it had some degree of bipartisan support. Due to how polarized America has become, any form of pro-gun reform tends to receive support and opposition on partisan lines. In other words, Republicans in a given legislative body would generally support pro-Second Amendment legislation, while Democrats would oppose said legislation and instead put forward bills that restrict people’s right to bear arms.
It seems that in the case of North Carolina, though, the polarization is starting to break down. Democrat Senators Sarah Crawford, Don Davis, and Kirk deViere all voted in favor of SB 43.
North Carolina’s gun laws still need work. The state is currently ranked in 27th place on Guns & Ammo magazine’s Best States for Gun Owners rankings. North Carolina’s ranking for concealed carry are worse. According to Guns & Ammo, North Carolina is ranked in 32nd place for the best states for concealed carry.
Unfortunately, the partisan makeup of the North Carolina state government will likely prevent SB 43 from becoming law. North Carolina Governor Roy Cooper presents the largest obstacle, and he will likely veto this bill if it arrives on his desk.
Gun owners should not hang their heads in disappointment though. They can continue rallying around the issue as the bill is debated in the Senate. If Cooper vetoes the bill, gun right activists should immediately pounce on this opportunity to organize an effort to promote a veto override. The effort will likely fail due to the fact that the North Carolina Senate does not have a veto-proof majority.
Nevertheless, these efforts will put the idea of relaxed gun restrictions in the public consciousness, which will eventually lead to elected officials starting to take this issue more seriously. Undoubtedly, Roy Cooper will be replaced with a governor who actually cares about the Second Amendment.
José Niño is a freelance writer based in Austin, Texas. Sign up for his mailing list here. Contact him via Facebook, Twitter, or email him at firstname.lastname@example.org. Get his e-book, The 10 Myths of Gun Control, here.