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New handgun law eases some restrictions

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Widely overlooked in the Moral Monday protests that have focused on changes in laws concerning education, abortion and voter identification is new handgun legislation signed by Gov. Pat McCrory on July 31.

The legislation made significant changes to North Carolina’s concealed handgun permit (CHP) regulations and other matters pertaining to handgun ownership.

For supporters of more stringent handgun regulation, the new law establishes a method to revoke the carry permits of individuals who, during the term of their five-year privilege, become prohibited by law from owning or possessing a firearm.

The new bill also improves reporting to the National Instant Criminal Background Check System (NICS) records of individuals the state has prohibited from purchasing or possessing a firearm.

It also brings North Carolina into compliance with standards set forth in the NICS Improvement Act of 2007. The act was signed in the aftermath of the Virginia Tech shootings and allows states to collect federal grant money if they include mental health records to the NICS for use in background checks.

Proponents of relaxed permitting and conceal carry regulations reaped most of the benefits of the new law.

For one, HB 937 now promises to streamline the process for obtaining a permit for a concealed handgun. Currently in Dare County, processing of an application can take 80 to 90 days.

The new law also repeals several restrictions on where permit holders can carry concealed weapons.

Unlike many other states, North Carolina does not have drinking-only establishments, or bars. Any establishment that serves alcohol must also serve prepared food with requirements for seating, kitchen size and other regulations.

Under the current law, concealed weapons were prohibited in any establishment that served alcohol. The new law repeals that prohibition but maintains the zero-tolerance rule that a person carrying a concealed weapon cannot consume any alcohol while in such an establishment.

Perhaps most controversial, CHP holders can now carry guns in their vehicles while on school and college property. The guns must be stored in a locked vehicle and cannot be carried once the permit holder leaves the vehicle.

Opponents of the current law said the total ban of possession of a concealed weapon while on school property violated their right to conceal off school premises, such as commuting to and from work or leaving school grounds for lunch and other errands.

Other prohibitions lifted include the ban on carrying concealed weapons at a parade or funeral, carrying a weapon at any venue that charges an admission fee, such as concerts, movies or sporting events not on school property.

CHP holders can now also carry guns in any public park in North Carolina. Prior to this change, local governments could ban concealed weapons from parks under local jurisdiction.

Finally, the ban against sound suppressing devices on handguns has been repealed, but only for those using such weapons in the legal hunting of game.


I can finally use my silencer for squirrel hunting this fall!

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