RALEIGH – Standing with legislators and state Department of Public Safety Secretary Frank Perry and surrounded by N.C. National Guard leaders and troops, Gov. Pat McCrory signed House Bill 371 today, allowing N.C. National Guard members to carry concealed firearms at offices and recruitment centers if they hold a concealed carry permit. The law also allows anyone in North Carolina to sue terrorists and their conspirators for the greater of treble the actual damages or $50,000.
“Our military offices should be among the safest in our community, and in our state, and in our nation,” said McCrory. “And we’re going to make sure that happens right here in North Carolina.”
The part of the bill arming guardsmen is a response to a July 16 shooting at two military recruiting centers in Chattanooga, Tenn. that left four Marines and one Navy sailor dead. Authorities have accused Tennessee man Muhammad Youssef Abdulazeez of being the shooter in the attack.
The day after the Chatanooga attack, McCrory instructed the N.C. Department of Public Safety and the North Carolina National Guard to step up security measures at the National Guard recruiting centers, armories and readiness centers statewide. This bill will affect only N.C. National Guard facilities; federal military recruiters are still not allowed to carry weapons.
Rep. Chris Whitmire (R-Transylvania) said that while the portion of the bill that allowed Guardsmen to arm themselves was a response to the attack, the portion dealing with lawsuits against terrorists and their accomplices had been in the works for a while.
“It gives a means to go after the purse strings for not only those who perpetrate a terrorist act, but those who aid and abet them,” said Whitmire, who is a colonel in the Air Force Reserve and taught counter-terrorism at the U.S. Air War College. Whitmire said the “lone wolf” perception of terrorists is fallacious.
“It’s not how you execute; it’s how you operate. [Terrorism] always has a nexus that requires some logistical, financial, communications, and a whole lot of other support. And that’s what this bill helps — the judiciary and law enforcement to be able to have another tool in the toolbox to go after those who ultimately hate our way of life and want to destroy us.”
The law defines a terrorist as “a person who commits an act of terror, including a person who acts as an accessory before or after the fact, aids or abets, solicits, or conspires to commit an act of terror or who lends material support to an act of terror.” It passed the House 115-0 and the Senate 42-0.