by Ray Nothstine
Opinion Editor, Carolina Journal | Research Fellow, John Locke Foundation
The General Assembly has two firearm bills on the calendar for March 9. H.B. 48 and H.B. 49 should pass the House on March 10. In the interest of public safety, H.B. 48 gives certain trained medical first responders the ability to carry a concealed weapon. H.B. 49 offers North Carolinians more latitude in the renewal process for the concealed carry permit. Both bills are worthy of support.
Another firearms bill that was introduced by Rep. Keith Kidwell, R-Beaufort, needs attention too. Kidwell has introduced H.B. 197, a constitutional carry bill. I’ve already written a piece in support of the legislation Carolina Journal and offered a short video explainer on the need for constitutional carry.
Constitutional carry actualizes the Second Amendment for millions of North Carolinians. Simply put, the Bill of Rights is the permit. All federal firearm laws and background checks still apply and it doesn’t invalidate the importance of the concealed carry permit as I explained in the CJ piece.
More importantly, there is a race going on to see what state is going to be 19th to allow constitutional carry. Montana and Utah are the most recent that have passed legislation. Iowa, Tennessee, Texas, Florida, and Indiana are some of the states that are most likely to be next.
Gov. Roy Cooper is the biggest obstacle to passing constitutional carry but North Carolina lawmakers never sent a bill to former Gov. Pat McCrory even when they had supermajorities. Cooper, who was once endorsed by the NRA, has moved decisively to the far left on gun control. Yet, Missouri and West Virginia are two states that overrode vetoes from Democrat governors to pass constitutional carry within the last half-decade.
Read the CJ piece for some of my arguments for constitutional carry. Yet, I keep coming back to one main argument. It’s very possible that two dozen states could have constitutional carry by this year. Why are the individuals in those states more worthy of Second Amendment protections than North Carolinians? Do they know more about firearms? Are they more oriented towards safety? Do the lawmakers there think they are better equipped for self-government? All good questions Second Amendment advocates should ask their representatives.
North Carolina should join the growing chorus for constitutional carry for those reasons, solidifying the principle that citizens are the masters and not servants of the government. No other legislation respects the plain meaning of the Second Amendment text like constitutional carry.