RALEIGH —Democratic Gov. Roy Cooper issued the 76th veto of his tenure on March 24, blocking a bill containing multiple firearms law changes such as a repeal of the pistol permit purchase system and a firearms safety awareness campaign.
Senate Bill 41, titled “Guarantee 2nd Amend Freedom and Protections,” was filed earlier this year by Sen. Danny Britt (R-Robeson), along with Sens. Warren Daniel (R-Burke) and Jim Perry (R-Lenoir).
“Eliminating strong background checks will allow more domestic abusers and other dangerous people to own handguns and reduces law enforcement’s ability to stop them from committing violent crimes. Second Amendment supporting, responsible gun owners know this will put families and communities at risk,” Cooper said in his veto message of the bill.
The measure passed the Senate down partisan lines, 29-19. Republicans hold a veto-proof supermajority in that chamber.
The House passed the bill by a vote of 70-44 with three House Democrats reaching across the aisle to vote for the measure: Reps. Marvin Lucas (D-Cumberland), Shelly Willingham (D-Edgecombe) and Michael Wray (D-Northampton).
An override will be coming as soon as this week, according to Britt, and it may be successful if the three House Democrats stick to their passage votes.
“When given the opportunity to guarantee Second Amendment protections in North Carolina, Gov. Roy Cooper chose to maintain our duplicative gun laws and infringe on our constitutional rights,” Britt said in a statement on Cooper’s veto. “I look forward to a swift veto override in the Senate.”
The bill consolidates provisions from other gun bill measures filed this session, and the name was changed from “Protect Religious Meeting Places” to the current title via a preferred committee substitute on Feb. 14.
The pistol permit purchase process is repealed by the bill, and the repeal has the backing of the N.C. Sherriff’s Association.
Under the bill, a person with a valid concealed handgun permit or who is exempt from obtaining that permit will be allowed to carry a handgun in a place of religious worship that is also educational property but with certain qualifiers.
The property can’t be owned by a local board of education or county commission and can’t be a public or private institution of higher education. There must be no posted prohibition for carrying a concealed handgun on the premises and the handgun can only be on the property outside of school hours.
The bill allows for concealed carry by certain law enforcement facility employees like security guards.
The final section of the bill would create a statewide firearm safe storage awareness initiative, facilitate the distribution of gun locks and a toolkit for municipalities to launch a local firearm safe storage program.