RALEIGH, N.C. (AP) — Gun rights advocates are worried a bill to permit handguns in North Carolina bars is being quietly snuffed out.
House Bill 111, which would allow concealed carry license holders to carry guns into businesses that serve alcohol, is currently on hold in the Senate Finance Committee and not scheduled for discussion. The measure would allow business owners to individually prohibit guns from their restaurants or bars, and it would remain illegal for concealed carry holders to drink alcohol while carrying a loaded handgun.
If the bill doesn’t make it out of the committee, it dies until the next legislative session. Gun rights advocates feel the Senate’s inaction is intentional.
Activist F. Paul Valone on Monday sent a heated letter to Senate leader Phil Berger, R-Rockingham. Valone, president of Grass Roots North Carolina, claims senators are afraid to take up the legislation before the November election.
“Do we have to wait until more die, Sen. Berger?” wrote Valone. “Will your legacy be that Republicans turned their backs on slain restaurant workers due to fear of bad press? I urge you to pull HB 111 from the Finance Committee and send it to the floor for an immediate vote.”
Berger, R-Rockingham, said he personally supports the bill, but that senate leaders are taking “a careful approach to it.”
“Whether we will be able to finalize the bill during the short session or whether it’s a long session issue we’ll pick up,” Berger said. “The issue is not going to die.”
Berger said the Senate would review the gun bill if there’s time left over after passing the budget.
“It’s not a question in my mind of if it’s a question of when,” Berger said. “I think we’ll see it but we’re working on a number of things and that is one of them.”
The legislation originally passed last legislative session by a veto-proof 74-42 majority in the House. Bill sponsor Rep. Mark Hilton, R-Catawba, said 44 states already allow similar measures and remains hopeful that the senate will take action this session.
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