RALEIGH, N.C. (WNCN/AP) — A bill that would allow elected politicians in North Carolina to bring their guns into places that are currently prohibited has passed in the North Carolina House of Representatives.
The measure passed by a 69-45 vote and now heads to the Senate for consideration.
House Bill 47 would give local prosecutors, judges and court workers already receive special exemptions to state rules that prohibit concealed permit holders from bringing guns to schools, parades and funerals; to any state and federal government buildings, or to any establishments where alcohol is served.
Local sheriffs issue permits that last five years. Recipients have to receive special training.
If the measure becomes law, those officials already exempt would be joined by “any person who is an elected official or person appointed to fill an elective office” in North Carolina when “acting in the discharge of their official duties.
That includes all municipal, county and state elected officials, including the 10 members of the Council of State, which includes the governor and lieutenant governor. It would allow General Assembly members to lawfully carry their concealed handguns while conducting business inside the Legislative Building and the adjoining Legislative Office Building, which otherwise prohibit guns except for law enforcement.
But the bill would also apply to lawmakers back in their districts while they are conducting government business, such as holding meetings with constituents in an area that otherwise prohibits concealed weapons.
It would be up to a prosecutor or jury to determine whether an elected official was truly performing an official duty at the time the person was armed if charged with otherwise breaking the concealed weapons law. The bill still prevents the elected officials from carrying their concealed weapon inside a school or on educational property. District attorneys and judges can arm themselves even in those locations.
The bill marks another effort by Republicans in the General Assembly to ease restrictions on concealed weapons or purchasing a gun. The House last week approved a bill that would end the process of sheriffs issuing a permit before someone can buy a pistol.