RALEIGH – A bill that makes changes to the state’s firearms laws is headed to Gov. Pat McCrory’s desk. House Bill 562 passed the Senate 40-9 Tuesday, with nine Democrats joining all Republicans in the chamber to support it. It passed the House 78-37 in June.
The bill, which a National Rifle Association lobbyist called “a great starting point for legal gun owners,” faced opposition from gun-control activists and the state sheriffs’ association before being amended in the House. The Senate did not change the bill, which was sponsored by Rep. Jacqueline Michelle Schaffer (R-Mecklenburg).
The bill makes a number of changes to N.C. gun laws:
- Makes the state’s pistol purchase permit program more consistent across all 100 counties by stipulating that sheriffs consider only conduct and criminal history for the past five years when deciding whether to issue a permit
- Establishes an affirmative defense for the use of a firearm on a school property when assisting in a “threatening situation in which deadly force was justified”
- Allows the Secretary of Agriculture to prohibit weapons at the State Fair
Protects existing gun ranges by making them immune from changes to local zoning and other ordinances
- Lines state law up with federal law on restoring firearm ownership and carriage rights to felons
- Clarifies that short-barreled rifles can be used for hunting
- Expands the ability to carry concealed weapons even when prohibited to certain Department of Public Safety employees and Administrative Law Judges
- Puts a time limit on law enforcement officials to approve or prohibit the transfer or making of a firearm
- Makes the penalty for carrying a firearm with a valid concealed carry permit on posted property an infraction instead of a misdemeanor
- Allows citizens who feel local firearm laws and ordinances are contrary to state law to bring lawsuits against counties or municipalities.