- Theresa Opeka / Carolina Journal
Cooper vetoes gun bill, including pistol purchase permit repeal
Gov. Roy Cooper vetoed Senate Bill 41, Guarantee Second Amend[ment] Freedom and Protections, including a pistol purchase permit repeal, Friday.
“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,” Cooper, a Democrat, said in a press release. “Second Amendment supporting, responsible gun owners know this will put families and communities at risk.”
The move was expected by Cooper, as he vetoed similar legislation two years ago. It also comes after Cooper’s executive action that created the Office of Violence Prevention in the Department of Public Safety on March 14.
Cooper said creating the office was necessary since the General Assembly has not wanted to take steps to combat gun violence. He disagrees with the House (House Bill 50) and Senate (Senate Bill 40) versions of a bill that would repeal the state’s permit law for buying handguns, among other gun bills. The vetoed S.B. 41 included the provisions of S.B. 40.
“The legislature is looking to pass several gun bills, but I would like us to move forward to fight gun violence with legislation instead of backward,” his words foreshadowing the action he carried out with his veto.
Cooper’s press release points out that the 2023 North Carolina Child Fatality Task Force reports that gun deaths for children have increased dramatically — 231.3% between 2012 and 2021. Guns are now the leading cause of injury death for children in North Carolina, surpassing car accidents.
Sen. Danny Britt, R-Robeson, the bill’s sponsor, released the following statement regarding Cooper’s veto:
“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,” he said. “I look forward to a swift veto override in the Senate.”
S.B. 41 would have eliminated an undue barrier regarding where and when guns can be legally carried.
In most North Carolina churches and places of religious worship, the congregations can decide whether firearms are allowed on their private property and what security measures they will have in place to protect their congregations. However, if a church or other place of religious worship is also the site of a private school, then that option is not available to the congregation.
S.B. 41 would have closed that loophole so a person who is legally registered to carry a concealed handgun could do so on the property of a church or other place of religious worship provided that:
It is located on private property.
It is not during school hours.
No students are present for curricular or extracurricular activities at the time.
The person in control of the property has not posted a “no guns allowed” sign.
The second part of the bill would have repealed North Carolina’s Jim Crow-era pistol purchase permit law.
After the Civil War, North Carolina’s Democratic-controlled legislature enacted a permit system to prevent black residents from owning guns, according to The North Carolina Law Review, which reports that “the permit system’s intention was to keep minorities from possessing handguns.”
Now, a century later, the report finds that “Black applicants [are] experiencing a rejection rate of approximately three times the rate of White applicants” for pistol permits at the Wake County Sheriff’s Office.
North Carolina is the only state in the South that has kept this law. Federal law already requires background checks for pistols purchased through licensed dealers.
The vetoed S.B. 41 also included a provision to launch a statewide firearm safe storage awareness initiative.
Alex Baltzegar contributed to this article.