GUN VIOLENCE PREVENTION
With the passing last month of the first anniversary of the shooting deaths of 17 at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School in Parkland, FL, the General Assembly has seen the introduction of several gun-related bills from all across the political spectrum. These include:
HB 86 – Gun Violence Prevention Act contains the following:
- Require obtaining a permit in order to purchase an assault weapon or long gun. Current law requires a permit or license only for the purchase of pistols.
- Require a 72-hour wait before the buyer of a gun can take possession of it.
- Make it illegal for anyone under the age of 18 to have a long gun or anyone under 21 to have an assault weapon. Current law prohibits only the possession of handguns by those under 18.
- Make it illegal to sell or give an assault weapon or long gun to anyone under 18. Current law applies only to selling or giving handguns to those under 18.
- Prohibit sale or possession of bump stocks or trigger cranks, which can enable more rapid firing of guns.
- Require safe storage of guns in a locked container when they are not being carried or used. Current safe-storage law applies only to gun-owners living with someone under the age of 18 and does not specify that the gun be locked up when not in use.
- Limit reciprocity on handgun permits only to states whose criteria are at least as stringent as NC’s.
- Require gun owners to purchase firearm liability insurance.
- Limit the size of ammunition magazines to 15 rounds.
- Repeal the current law prohibiting local governments from having stricter gun laws.
Introduced by Reps. Clark (D-Huntersville), Morey (D-Durham), Harrison (D-Greensboro), and Willingham (D-Rocky Mount). Referred to House Judiciary and then to Rules.
HB 61 – Omnibus Gun Changes is a lengthy bill to, as its long title states, “make multiple changes to the state laws regarding firearms.” These changes generally would ease restrictions on who may have guns and where. Probably the most disturbing part of the bill is that it eliminates the current requirement that a person have a permit issued by a sheriff in order to carry a concealed handgun. Among the requirements for getting such a permit has been that the applicant complete an approved course in gun safety which also includes instruction regarding state laws about concealed carry and the use of deadly force. Under H 61, people would not have to have a permit or take the course.
Introduced by Reps. Pittman (R-Concord), Potts (R-Lexington), and Kidwell (R-Chocowinity). Referred to House Judiciary, then to Finance and Rules.
A package of four bills has been introduced by the House Select Committee on School Safety, which was created by the House leadership following Parkland. As you will see, none of the four deals directly with guns. The first three were introduced by Reps. Torbett (R-Stanley), Lewis (R-Dunn), Dobson (R-Nebo), and Bell (R-Goldsboro). The fourth was introduced by Reps. White (R-Clayton), Torbett, Horn (R-Weddington), and Elmore (R-North Wilksboro).
HB 73 – Civic Responsibility Education would require schools to teach about civic responsibility, with the focus on respect for school personnel, responsibility for school safety, service to others, and good citizenship. It is now in Senate Rules.
HB 74 – 2019 School Safety Grants Program would allocate over $33 million to cover grants for services for students in crisis, school safety training, safety equipment in schools, and school mental health support personnel. An additional $7.7 million would go for school resource officers. Referred to House Appropriations and then to Rules.
HB 75 – School Mental Health Screening Study would call for a study about developing a statewide process for mental health screening of students, to identify those at risk of harming themselves or others. It is now in Senate Rules.
H 76 – School Safety Omnibus would require public schools to, among other things, create threat assessment teams, develop state-of-emergency plans, ensure school resource officers are adequately trained, and complete annual vulnerability assessments for school buildings. Passed by the House and in the Senate, where it is not yet assigned to a committee.
ADDITIONAL GUN VIOLENCE BILLS:
HB 139 – Youth Gun Violence Study Commission. Issues to be considered include the availability of guns to juveniles, the incidence of gun violence among juveniles in NC, programs that have been successful in educating juveniles about the dangers of guns, handgun buyback programs, and youth mentoring programs.
Introduced by Rep. Pierce (D-Wagram). Referred to Judiciary and then to Rules.
HB 110/SB 90 – Protect Religious Meeting Places. Current law prohibits, with some exceptions, bringing guns onto school property. HB 110/SB 90 apply to property which is both a school and a place of worship and would allow concealed carry of handguns other than during school operating hours. Introduced by Rep. R. Turner (R-Olin) and by Sens. Daniel (R-Morganton), Britt (R-Lumberton), and Johnson (R-Monroe). Referred to House Judiciary, then to Education – K-12, and then to Rules, and to Senate Rules.
HB 216—School Self-Defense Act would permit schools to designate some members of the faculty or staff as a “volunteer school faculty guardian,” meaning that they would be permitted to carry a handgun on the school grounds to respond to acts of violence or threats of violence. These “guardians” would be required to have a concealed handgun permit and to complete a 16-hour course on active shooters.
Introduced by Reps. Pittman and Speciale (R-New Bern). Referred to House Rules.
SB 192 – School Security Act of 2019 would create the position of “teacher resource officer,” which would be classroom teachers who have applied for the position, been accepted, and have completed the training necessary to become a sworn law enforcement officer. These teacher resource officers would have the same powers as local police officers to make arrests. They would not be required to wear a uniform but would have to carry a badge or other document identifying their position. The school would determine, in consultation with local law enforcement, whether its TRO(s) would carry a gun at all times and whether it would be concealed or open. A grant program would be established to cover expenses of attending Basic Law Enforcement Training. Funding is provided for up to 3,000 candidates. In addition, TROs would receive a 5% salary supplement each month, with funding provided for 3,000 TROs, based on a ratio of one TRO per 500 students. The bill also encourages religious and other private schools to develop risk management plans, to conduct lockdown drills, and to designate employees or volunteers as authorized to bring handguns on campus. Finally, the bill continues provisions somewhat like those of H 110/S 90, above, allowing handguns to be brought into spaces that are both religious and educational as long as students are not attending classes at the time.
Introduced by Sens. Daniel, Hise (R-Spruce Pine), and Tillman (R-Archdale). Referred to Senate Rules.
HB 319 – In-State Tuition Equity would grant in-state tuition to immigrant youth attending the University of North Carolina or an NC community college if they graduated from high school in NC, attended at least the last two years of high school here, and, if undocumented, have applied to legalize their status or will do so as soon as they are eligible.
Introduced by Reps. Meyer (D-Hillsborough), Fisher (D-Asheville), Harrison, and Brockman (D-High Point). Not yet referred.
SB 165 – Off-Track Pari-Mutuel Betting would allow the state lottery to license off-track gambling on horse racing. In addition to a $1,000 application fee, the Lottery Commission would also get 20% of the amount wagered.
Introduced by Sen. Fitch (D-Wilson). Referred to Senate Rules.
HB 302/SB 154 – Authorize Sports Wagering on Tribal Lands would add gambling on professional and college sports to the forms of gambling which are allowed on “Indian lands” (the term used currently in North Carolina law).
Introduced by Reps. Corbin (R-Franklin), Bell, Saine (R-Lincolnton), and Hunter (D-Ahoskie) and in the Senate by Sen. J. Davis (R-Franklin). Not yet referred in the House; referred to Senate Rules.
Introduced by Sens. Smith (D-Henrico), Foushee (D-Hillsborough), and Van Duyn (D-Buncombe County). Referred to Senate Rules.
Introduced by Reps. Harris (D-Charlotte), Alexander (D-Charlotte), Jackson (D-Raleigh), and K. Smith (D-Greenville). Referred to House Rules.
HB 271/SB 184 – NC Adopt Equal Rights Amendment. These similar bills would add North Carolina to the states which have adopted the Equal Rights Amendment (“Equality of rights under the law shall not be denied or abridged by the United States or by any State on account of sex”). The congressional act which approved the amendment and sent it to the states for ratification put a seven-year deadline, which was later extended once. HB 271/SB 184 assert that Congress has the power to reopen the ratification process, which fell just short of the required three-fourths of the states.
Introduced by Reps. Cunningham (D-Charlotte), Fisher, Terry (D-Winston-Salem), and von Haefen (D-Apex) and by Sens. McKissick (D-Durham), Van Duyn, and Smith. Referred to House Judiciary and then Rules and to Senate Rules.
HB 312/SB 209 – Hate Crimes Prevention Act. Current law calls for a longer sentence for crimes that are committed because of who the victim is. Currently a crime becomes a hate crime if based on the victim’s race, color, religion, nationality, or country of origin. These bills would add to that list ethnicity, gender, gender identity, gender expression, disability, or sexual orientation. In addition, the SBI would be required to create a hate crimes database, the NC Justice Academy to provide training to law enforcement, and the Conference of District Attorneys to provide training to DAs in prosecuting hate crimes.
Introduced by Reps. Majeed (D-Charlotte), Harrison, Meyer, and Martin (D-Raleigh) and by Sens. Chaudhuri (D-Raleigh), Foushee, and Mohammed (D-Charlotte). Not yet referred.
HB 314 – Constitutional Amendment/Repeal Literacy Test would amend the state constitution to repeal the provision requiring every person registering to vote to be able to read and write any section of the Constitution in the English language. While this has been illegal under federal legislation and court rulings for fifty years, the language is still in our constitution.
Introduced by Reps. Alexander (D-Charlotte), Stevens (R-Mt. Airy), Speciale (R-New Bern), and Pierce (D-Wagram). Not yet referred.
SB 75 – Restore Court of Appeals Membership. The Governor has the power to appoint people to fill vacancies occurring on the Supreme Court and Court of Appeals between elections. The 2017 General Assembly passed a law saying that any such vacancies occurring on the Court of Appeals would result in that seat being abolished until the number of judges was decreased from 15 to 12. SB 75 deletes the 2017 provision and restores the number of judges to 15. Introduced by Sens. Hise, Daniel and Bishop (R-Charlotte), it was passed almost unanimously by both House and Senate and signed by Gov. Cooper within nine days of being introduced.
HB 294 – Partisan Elections Act is for those who think there’s just not enough partisanship in our elections. It would require that every election in the state be held as a partisan election. This would include elections for local boards of education, sanitary districts, soil and water conservation districts, city councils, and other municipal offices.
Introduced by Reps. Pittman, Cleveland (R-Jacksonville), Kidwell, and Speciale. Referred to House Elections and then to Rules.
HB 160 – Rescind Calls for Constitutional Convention. The US Constitution sets a process for adopting amendments that involves amendments being proposed by a supermajority in Congress and then ratified by three-fourths of the states. The Constitution also contains a less-well-known and never-used provision allowing two-thirds of the states to call for a constitutional convention. While it might be called to deal with one specific issue, many people have been concerned that there would be no limits on what might be considered. In recent years some conservatives have organized a campaign for such a convention. HB 160 reflects growing concern about an unlimited convention; it would call for the rescinding of all previous calls by the General Assembly for a constitutional convention. It notes that “there is no need for, rather there is great danger in a new constitution or in opening the Constitution to sweeping changes, the adoption of which would only create legal chaos in this nation and only begin the process of another two centuries of litigation over its meaning and interpretation.”
Introduced by Reps. Elmore, Kidwell, Jackson and Speciale, with 19 other co-sponsors from across the political spectrum. Referred to House Rules.
SB 175 – Funds/Eliminate NC Pre-K Waitlist Statewide would appropriate $2.4 million for fiscal year 2019-20 and $4.8 million for FY 2020-21 to eliminate the waiting list for the NC Pre-K program.
Introduced by Sens. Waddell (D-Charlotte), Marcus (D-Davidson), and Mohammed. Referred to Senate Appropriations and then Rules.
HB 229 – Repeal Municipal Charter Schools. Last year the General Assembly passed laws that would permit local governments to operate charter schools. H 229 would repeal those laws, which critics have said could encourage racial resegregation.
Introduced by Reps. Alexander, Autry (D-Charlotte), Martin, and Hawkins (D-Durham). Referred to House Rules.
Join Public Schools First NC on Wednesday, March 13 from 7-8 pm for a Tweet Storm to opposed the two bills introduced to arm public school teachers with guns. Use the following hashtags during the Tweet Storm:
Additionally, Public Schools First NC recommends using the following sample tweets with the hashtags listed above:
- @YourNCHouseRep @YourNCSenator
Arm teachers with helping professionals to support students in crisis! #SchoolSafety #BooksNotGuns
- @YourNCHouseRep @YourNCSenator
Vote NO on SB192 & HB216. #SchoolSafety #ResourcesNotGuns
- @YourNCHouseRep @YourNCSenator
Our teachers do NOT need guns! They need fully funded schools! #SchoolSafety #ArmMeWith
- @YourNCHouseRep @YourNCSenator
Arm our schools with books and supplies, not guns! #SchoolSafety #BooksNotGuns
If you are not active on Twitter or are not available during this time for the Tweetchat, then you can also contact your representatives and express your concerns.