North Carolina Gun Politics – The Good, The Bad, & The Disappointing

North Carolina Gun Politics – The Good, The Bad, & The Disappointing

Grass Roots North Carolina for Firearms Education
Grass Roots North Carolina for Firearms Education

North Carolina –-( “The idea of a concealed-carry in an Applebee’s bothered people…” – Republican Speaker Thom Tillis, after restaurant carry language was removed from gun legislation which passed.

[Analysis] With HB 650 signed by the Governor and scheduled to become law on December 1, congratulations are due to all who responded to GRNC alerts by calling and e-mailing the NC General Assembly.

Thanks are also due volunteers of the Legislative Action Team for many hours spent at the legislature, our Director and Co-Director of Communications for dozens of alerts, often sent with little notice, to our Webmaster for alerts promptly posted, to gun show volunteers for alerts distributed to thousands of gun owners and to all others who helped win this crucial victory. Once again, you have demonstrated the value of an all-volunteer organization in defending our rights.

As usual, politicians’ records are more checkered. Heroes of the General Assembly include Rep. Mark Hilton (R-Catawba, GRNC ****), who acted as primary sponsor for nearly all gun bills in the House; Sen. Buck Newton (R-Nash, Wilson, ****), who spent long hours restructuring bills to make them acceptable to leadership, and who delivered on committee hearings promised, House Rules Chairman Tim Moore (R-Cleveland, ****), for courage in giving hearings to bills not always favorably regarded by leadership, Sens. Debbie Clary (R-Cleveland, Rutherford, ****) and Andrew Brock (R-Davie, Rowan, ****), for working to support numerous pro-gun bills, Rep. George Cleveland (R-Onslow, ****) for his stalwart support in committee and during floor debates, Rep. Glen Bradley (R-Franklin, Halifax, Nash, ****) for introducing the “Firearms Freedom Act” and for supporting gun bills on the floor, and Rep. Kelly Hastings(R-Cleveland, Gaston, ****) for being the most tenacious Second Amendment supporter among incoming House freshman.


House Majority Leader Paul (“Skip”) Stam (R-Wake, GRNC eval. under review) worked to weaken both Castle Doctrine and HB 650, and then paradoxically voted for final passage of both. From his proposed committee substitute for Castle Doctrine to apparently orchestrating the McGrady amendment, which removed language for guns in locked vehicles at places of employment from HB 650 (during which debate Stam employed the bizarre argument that he owns everything which crosses his property), to objecting in caucus to bringing gun bills to committee votes, Stam worked to undermine gun bills in the GOP caucus.

Beyond the usual anti-gun Democrats, others who worked to subvert your rights included Rep. Deborah Ross (D-Wake, 0-star), who tried to insert a “poison pill” into HB 111 for parks and restaurant carry, Rep. David Guice(R-Henderson, Polk, Transylvania, GRNC eval. under review) who weakened parks carry by exempting certain recreational facilities, and Rep. Chuck McGrady

(R-Henderson, GRNC eval. under review), who offered the amendment to remove guns in locked vehicles from HB 650. Perhaps most pathetic was Sen. Ellie Kinnaird

(D-Orange, Person, 0-star), who after initially being ruled out of order during the floor debate over HB 650, eventually managed to insert her usual anti-gun screed (albeit pointlessly) into the record, neatly lumping gun owners in with terrorists. Poor, old Ellie. She seems increasingly out of touch.

NC Senator Berger
NC Senator Berger quickly forgot the pro gun voters who put him in office.

Frankly, we expected more from Republican leadership, specifically Speaker Thom Tillis (R-Mecklenburg, ****) and Senate President Pro Tempore Phil Berger(R-Guilford, Rockingham, ****). But it quickly became apparent that support for gun rights voters who helped “bring ’em to the dance” would be forthcoming only insofar as it could be done without sticking their necks out.

What resulted was a “thrust and parry” fencing match as we pressured chamber leaders to move gun legislation and they responded by adding and then removing bills from committee calendars, playing a “shell game” of inserting gun language into this or that bill, insisting on veto-proof majorities rather than simple majorities before bringing bills to the floor, and worst of all, removing items deemed “too controversial” from the legislation which passed.

What we got…and what we will
The result was, at best, half a loaf. We got the long-awaited Castle Doctrine, and somewhat weakened version of the parks carry GRNC has sought since 1997, and some other enhancements. Meanwhile, Tillis and Berger nixed guns in locked vehicles at places of employment, guns in locked compartments on educational property, and concealed carry in restaurants. The stated reason for the latter was poor polling on the topic.

Said Speaker Tillis to the Charlotte Observer: ““The idea of a concealed-carry in an Applebee’s bothered people…”

The good news is that HB 111 – which contains restaurant carry – passed the House and remains alive for consideration when the legislature convenes next year. GRNC will be working hard on a campaign to pass it. As an opening shot, we suggest gun rights supporters contact Senator Berger and Speaker Tillis and tell them that what “bothers” them are Republican leaders who more or less immediately forgot who put them there.

Grass Roots North Carolina/Forum for Firearms Education is a non-profit, all volunteer organization devoted to educating the public about trends which abridge the freedoms guaranteed by the Bill of Rights, and engaging in grass roots activism to preserve those freedoms. Formed in 1994 to conduct a highly successful rally for the Second Amendment, GRNC has gone on to conduct projects like “Remember in November: A Gun Owner’s Guide to Voting,” bringing concealed carry to North Carolina.