Bill Summary for H 61 (2019-2020)

Summary date: 

Feb 13 2019

Bill Information:

View NCGA Bill Details2019-2020 Session
House Bill 61 (Public) Filed Tuesday, February 12, 2019
AN ACT TO MAKE MULTIPLE CHANGES TO THE STATE LAWS REGARDING FIREARMS.
Intro. by Pittman, Potts, Kidwell.

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Bill summary

Part I. Carry Modifications

Adds new Article 54C to GS Chapter 14, Carrying Handguns and Restrictions on Carrying Weapons in Certain Locations.

Enacts GS 14-415.35, setting out provisions relating to the carrying of handguns. Defines handgun to mean a firearm that has a short stock and is designed to be held and fired by the use of a single hand.

Prohibits anyone from carrying a handgun on another person's private property if notice of the prohibition is given by posting a conspicuous notice or statement by the person in legal possession or control of the premises. Exempts from this prohibition law enforcement officers discharging their official duties or a licensed bail bondsman while performing that bondsman's duties. Makes a violation of this provision an infraction and establishes that a person found responsible for the infraction can be required to pay a fine of up to $500.

Prohibits carrying a concealed handgun while consuming alcohol, or at any time while the person has alcohol remaining in the person's body, or in the person's blood a controlled substance previously consumed. Exempts from this prohibition (1) a person who has a controlled substance in the person's blood that was lawfully obtained and taken in therapeutically appropriate amounts or (2) a person that is on the person's own property. Makes any violations of this provision a Class 1 misdemeanor.

Makes it unlawful for a person who meets any of the 14 specified criteria to carry a concealed handgun, including a person who is under indictment or a finding of probable cause exists for a felony or who is or has been adjudicated to be a danger to self or others due to mental illness or lack of mental capacity. Makes a violation of this prohibition a Class 2 misdemeanor for a first offense, and a Class H felony for a second or subsequent offense.

Requires a person to carry valid identification when carrying a concealed weapon. Further, requires a person to disclose to any law enforcement officer that the person is carrying a concealed handgun when approached or addressed by the officer, and to display the proper identification upon the officer's request. Makes a violation of this subsection an infraction punishable in accordance with GS 14-3.1 (setting a penalty not to exceed $100).

Enacts GS 14-415.37 making it an infraction to possess or carry, openly or concealed, a firearm or any other deadly weapon not used solely for instructional or officially sanctioned ceremonial purposes in the State Capitol Building, the Executive Mansion, the Western Residence of the Governor, or on the grounds of any of these buildings. Excludes an ordinary pocket knife in a closed position, as defined in GS 14-269(d), from the meaning of the term "deadly weapon." Exempts: (1) persons exempted by GS 14-415.41 from this prohibition; (2) the Governor and the Governor's immediate family if the property is the Executive Mansion or the Western Residence of the Governor; and (3) a person with a valid carry permit under Article 54B, or who is exempt from obtaining a permit pursuant to GS 14-415.25, who has a firearm in a closed compartment or container within the person's locked vehicle or in a locked container securely affixed to the person's vehicle.

Enacts GS 14-415.38 to make it an infraction to possess or carry, openly or concealed, a firearm or any other deadly weapon not used solely for instructional or officially sanctioned ceremonial purposes in any building housing any court of the General Court of Justice, or any part of a building used for court purposes. Exempts from this prohibition (1) persons exempt by GS 14-415.41, subject to the other exemptions' requirements; (2) any person in possession of a weapon for evidentiary purposes, to deliver it to a law enforcement agency, or for purposes of registration; (3) firearms carried by detention officers employed and authorized by the sheriff to carry firearms; (4) any district court or superior court judge carrying or possessing a concealed handgun with a valid carry permit under Article 54B in a building housing court when in the discharge of his or her official duties; (5) any magistrate carrying or possessing a concealed handgun of a building housing a court other than a courtroom itself if the magistrate is discharging his or her official duties, has a valid permit under Article 54B, has met the specified weapons retention training requirement, and secures the weapon in a locked compartment when not on the magistrate's person; and (6) a person with a permit who has a firearm in a closed compartment or container within the person's locked vehicle or in a locked container securely affixed to the person's vehicle.

Enacts GS 14-415.39 making it a a Class 1 misdemeanor for any person participating in, affiliated with, or present as a spectator at a picket line or any demonstration upon any private health care facility or upon any public place owned or under the control of the State or any of its political subdivisions to willfully or intentionally possess or have immediate access to a firearm or any other dangerous weapon. Exempts from the prohibition (1) persons exempted by GS 14-415.41, (2) any person authorized by state or federal law to carry dangerous weapons in the performance of his or her duties, and (3) any person who obtains a permit to carry a dangerous weapon at a picket line or demonstration from the sheriff or police chief of the locality where the picket line or demonstration is to take place. Defines dangerous weapon to include those weapons specified in GS 14-269, GS 14-269.2, GS 14-284.1, GS 14-288.8, or GS 14-415.35 or any other object capable of inflicting serious bodily injury or death when used as a weapon.

Enacts new GS 14-415.40 to make it a Class 1 misdemeanor to carry a handgun into the following (unless provided otherwise by law): (1) an area prohibited by rule adopted under GS 120-32.1, (2) any area prohibited by 18 USC Sec. 922 or any other federal law, and (3) in a law enforcement or correctional facility. Specifies that the statute does not apply to any person exempted by new GS 14-415.27.

Enacts new GS 14-415.41, which exempts 15 classes of individuals from new GS 14-415.36 (reserved), GS 14-415.37 (prohibiting firearms or weapons on the premises of the State Capitol, Executive Mansion, or Western Residence of the Governor), new GS 14-415.38 (prohibiting firearms or weapons in courthouses or buildings housing any court), and new GS 14-415.39 (prohibiting firearms and weapons at picket lines and certain demonstrations). The 15 classes of individuals granted the exception are: (1) officers and enlisted personnel of the US Armed Forces of the United States when in discharge of their official duties as such and acting under orders requiring them to carry arms and weapons; (2) civil and law enforcement officers of the United States; (3) officers and soldiers of the militia and the National Guard when called into actual service; (4) a member of the North Carolina National Guard who has been designated in writing by the Adjutant General, State of North Carolina, who has a valid permit under Article 54B, and is acting in the discharge of his or her official duties; (5) officers of the State, or of any county, city, town, or company police agency charged with the execution of the laws of the State, when acting in the discharge of their official duties; (6) any person who is a district attorney, an assistant district attorney, or an investigator employed by the office of a district attorney in this state who has a valid permit under Article 54B. Requires the district attorney, assistant district attorney, or investigator to secure the weapon in a locked compartment when the weapon is not on the person. Allows a district attorney, but not an investigator, to carry a concealed weapon while in a courtroom; (7) any person who is a qualified retired law enforcement officer who either holds a permit under Article 54B, is exempt from obtaining a permit under GS 14-415.25, or is certified by the NC Criminal Justice Education and Training Standards Commission under GS 14-415.26; (8) detention personnel or correctional officers employed by the State or a unit of local government who park a vehicle in a space that is authorized for their use in the course of their duties transporting a firearm to the parking space and store that firearm in the vehicle parked in the parking space, if specified conditions are met; (9) a North Carolina district court judge, North Carolina superior court judge, or a North Carolina magistrate who has a a valid permit under Article 54B. Requires the judge or magistrate to secure the weapon in a locked compartment when the weapon is not on the person of the judge or magistrate; (10) a clerk of court or a register of deeds who has a valid permit under Article 54B. Requires the clerk of court or register of deeds to secure the weapon in a locked compartment when the weapon is not on the person of the clerk of court or register of deeds. Specifies that this subdivision does not apply to assistants, deputies, or other employees of the clerk of court or register of deeds; (11) sworn law enforcement officers, when off duty; (12) state probation or parole certified officers, when off‑duty; (13) a person employed by the Department of Public Safety who has been designated in writing by the Secretary of the Department and has in the person's possession written proof of the designation by the Secretary of the Department, who has a valid permit under Article 54B; (14) an administrative law judge who has a valid permit under Article 54B; and (15) state correctional officers, when off‑duty, who have a valid permit under Article 54B; however, the correctional officer is required to meet the firearms training standards of the Division of Adult Correction of the Department of Public Safety if the concealed weapon is handgun.

Enacts new GS 14-415.42, authorizing any person who can legally carry a handgun under new GS 14-415.35 to carry any firearm openly or concealed at any state-owned rest area, at any state-owned rest stop along the highways, and at any state-owned hunting and fishing reservation. Additionally authorizes any person who can legally carry a handgun under GS 14-415.35 to carry a handgun, openly or concealed, on the grounds or waters of a park within the State Parks System as defined in GS 143B-269.1.

Recodifies GS 14-269.3, regarding the prohibition against carrying guns into assemblies where a fee was charged for admission, or into establishments serving alcoholic beverages, as GS 14-415.36. Exempts persons listed under GS 14-415.41, and persons carrying a handgun with a valid concealed handgun permit from the statute.

Makes conforming changes, repealing GS 14-269.4 (Weapons on certain State property and in courthouses) and GS 14-277.2 (Weapons at parades, etc., prohibited).

Enacts GS 14-415.10A to provide that North Carolina is to continue to make a concealed handgun permit available, even though it is lawful to carry a concealed handgun without a permit under new GS 14-415.35, to any person who applies for and is eligible to receive a concealed handgun permit pursuant to Article 54B of GS Chapter 14, reasoning that a permit may be required to carry a concealed handgun in some places for public safety reasons, is convenient for purposes of reciprocity when traveling out of state, and to make the purchase of a firearm. 

Directs the North Carolina Criminal Justice Education and Training Standards Commission to include all changes related to the possession and carrying of handguns enacted by this act into the general guidelines for approved firearms safety and training courses prior to December 1, 2019.

Effective July 1, 2019.

Part II. Clarifying Changes to Carry Modifications

Amends GS 14-269 (Carrying concealed weapons) to add guns to the list of weapons that may not be carried in a concealed way except on the person's own premises.  Adds that the terms "weapon" and “gun” do not include a handgun for purposes of the statute. Makes conforming changes to eliminate subsections (a1) and (a2) pertaining to carrying a concealed handgun with a permit and the punishments set out for violations of those subsections in subsection (c). Makes further conforming changes to eliminate related requirements in the exceptions and defenses to prosecution under this statute. Amends the list of classes of people exempt from the concealed carry prohibition. Clarifies that the following classes of people must have a valid concealed handgun permit under GS Chapter 14, Article 54B (was, they had to have a concealed handgun permit issued in accordance with the Article or considered valid under GS 14-415.24) to qualify for the exemption: designated National Guard members, district attorneys, assistant district attorneys, investigators employed by the office of a district attorney, superior and district court judges, magistrates, clerks of court, registers of deeds, Department of Public Safety employees designated in writing by the Secretary, administrative law judges, and off-duty state correctional officers. Deletes the prohibition on district attorneys and assistant district attorneys carrying concealed weapons in a courtroom, and prohibits district attorneys' investigators from carrying concealed weapons in a courtroom. Makes a conforming change by deleting language regarding compliance by off-duty state correctional officers with firearms training standards (which is now addressed in GS 14-415.41). Amends the defense to prosecution under this statute to include the element that the weapon was not a handgun (was, the weapon was not a firearm). Makes technical changes.

Amends GS 14-269.1 to include convictions under new GS 14-415.35 to the offenses for which the presiding trial judge must order the confiscation and disposal of the deadly weapon referenced in the conviction, in the judge's discretion as specified. Also establishes that this provision applies to a conviction of any offense in addition to those specified involving the use of a firearm or other deadly weapon.

Amends GS 14-269.2 (Weapons on campus or other educational property). Deletes proposed amendments to subsections (i), (j), and (k) (regarding exemptions for employees of institutions of higher education or public or nonpublic schools, who resided on the campus of the school, and for persons with concealed handgun permits).

Makes conforming changes to GS 14-288.8.

Amends GS 14-401.24 (Unlawful possession and use of unmanned aircraft systems) by amending the definition of weapon to also include those specified in GS 14-415.35.

Amends GS 14-409.40, which establishes the regulation of firearms as an issue of general statewide concern, to provide that nothing in this statute prohibits municipalities or counties from application of their authority under new GS 14-415.35, GS 14-415.36, GS 14-415.38, and GS 14-415.39. Makes conforming changes to delete references to authority granted under statutes repealed by the act.

Amends GS 14-415.4, which directs the court to deny the petition to restore the firearms rights of any petitioner if the court finds the petitioner is or has been adjudicated guilty of or received a prayer for judgment continued or suspended sentence for one or more crimes of violence constituting a misdemeanor, as specified. Adds to the specified misdemeanors those provided under new GS 14-415.36, GS 14-415.37, GS 14-415.38, and GS 14-415.39. Makes conforming changes to delete references to misdemeanors set out under statutes repealed by the act. 

Amends GS 14-415.11 (Permit to carry a concealed handgun; scope of permit). Modifies and adds to the areas in which a permit does not authorize a person to carry a concealed handgun, except as provided in GS 14-415.27. Amends subdivision (c)(1) to prohibit carrying in areas prohibited by GS 14-462.2, new GS 14-415.36, and new GS 14-415.39. Amends subdivision (c)(2) to prohibit carrying in an area prohibited by new GS 14-415.37, except that a person can have a concealed handgun if it is in a closed compartment or container within the person's locked vehicle or in a locked container securely affixed to the person's vehicle. Adds new subdivision (c)(2a) to prohibit carrying in an area prohibited by new GS 14-415.38, except that a person can have a concealed handgun if it is in a closed compartment or container within the person's locked vehicle or in a locked container securely affixed to the person's vehicle. Deletes provisions authorizing persons with concealed handgun permits on the grounds or waters of State Parks, prohibiting concealed carry of a handgun while consuming alcohol, and authorizing concealed carry of a handgun at State-owned rest areas.

Amends GS 14-415.12 (Criteria to qualify for the issuance of a concealed handgun permit) to make conforming changes. 

Repeals GS 14-415.22 (the construction provisions of Article 54B of GS Chapter 14).

Amends GS 74E-6 to provide that company police officers have the authority to carry concealed weapons pursuant to and in conformity with new GS 14-415.35 in addition to GS 14-269(b)(4) and (5) if duly authorized by the superior officer in charge. Company police agencies can be a hospital, a state institution, or a corporation engaged in providing on-site police security personnel service for persons or property under GS 74E-2 that is certified by the Attorney General in accordance with The Company Police Act, GS Chapter 74E.

Amends GS 74G-6  to provide that campus police officers have the authority to carry concealed weapons pursuant to and in conformity with new GS 14-415.35 in addition to GS 14-269(b) if duly authorized by their campus police agency and by the sheriff of the county in which the campus police agency is located. Campus police agencies can be public educational institutions operating under the authority of the UNC Board of Governors or the State Board of Community Colleges and private educational institutions licensed by the UNC Board of Governors pursuant to GS 116-15 or that are exempt from licensure by the Board of Governors pursuant to GS 116-15(c) and certified by the Attorney General in accordance with The Campus Police Act, GS Chapter 74G.

Amends GS 106-503.2 (Regulation of firearms at State Fair). Amends the exception to now refer to those classes named in GS 14-415.41 instead of GS 14-269 and further exempts persons exempted by GS 14-415.41(11) (sworn law enforcement officers whether on or off duty).

Amends GS 113-136 to authorize inspectors and protectors of the Department of Environmental Quality to arrest for violations of new GS 14-415.35, subject to the direction of administrative superiors, relating to matters within the jurisdiction of the Department concerning the conservation of marine and estuarine resources and relating to matters within the jurisdiction of the Wildlife Resources Commission concerning boating and water safety, hunting and trapping, fishing, and activities in woodlands and on inland waters. 

Part III. Standardize and Ensure Uniformity of Concealed Handgun Permit Applications and Make Conforming Changes

Amends GS 14-415.10 to revise the definitions of qualified former sworn law enforcement officer, qualified retired correctional officer, and qualified retired probation or parole certified officer to include individuals retired from service in those positions who have been retired for five years or less (was, two years or less).

Amends GS 14-415.12 by amending the criteria that must be met before a sheriff can issue a concealed handgun permit to require that the applicant not suffer from a currently diagnosed and ongoing mental disorder the sheriff determines would reasonably prevent the safe handling of a handgun (was, does not suffer from a physical or mental infirmity that prevents the safe handling of a handgun). Specifies that previous treatment for transient disorders is not disqualifying. Requires the sheriff to deny a permit to an applicant who is currently, or has been previously, adjudicated by a court to be a danger to self or others due to mental illness or lack of mental capacity (was, adjudicated by a court or administratively determined by a governmental agency whose decision is subject to judicial review to be lacking mental capacity or mentally ill).

Amends GS 14-415.13 to add that a sheriff may schedule appointments for concealed handgun applications if they are scheduled for 15 business days or less from the date on which the applicant informs the sheriff that the applicant possesses all necessary documentation. Also amends the type of mental health and capacity records an applicant must allow to be disclosed to the sheriff.

Amends GS 14-415.15 by requiring the sheriff to issue or deny the concealed handgun permit within 90 days after receiving the items required in GS 14-415.13 from an applicant. Requires that, if the sheriff has not received the required mental health or capacity records after 45 days, that the sheriff request the records again.

Amends GS 14-415.19 to increase the application fee from $80 to $81 and requires that $46 (was, $45) of the fee be remitted to the Department of Public Safety for the costs of performing the criminal record checks.

Part III is effective October 1, 2019, and applies to permit applications submitted on or after that date.

Part IV. Concealed Carry in State Legislative Buildings

Amends GS 120-32.1 to add that legislators, legislative employees, and qualified former sworn law enforcement officers with concealed handgun permits are authorized to carry a concealed handgun on the premises of the State legislative buildings and grounds, notwithstanding any rule by the Legislative Services Commission (Commission). Authorizes the Commission to adopt a rule requiring the legislator, legislative employee, or qualified current or former sworn law enforcement officer to provide notice to the Chief of the General Assembly Special Police before carrying the handgun on the premises. Authorizes the Legislative Services Commission to adopt a rule prohibiting the carrying of a firearm in the gallery of the State legislative building. Makes conforming changes to GS 14-415.11. Effective December 1, 2019.

Part V. Changes to Weapons on Educational Property

Amends GS 14-269.2 (regulating weapons on campus or other educational property) as follows. Defines school operating hours as any times when curricular or extracurricular activities are taking place on the premises and any time when the premises are being used for educational, instructional, or school-sponsored activities. Adds that the restrictions on possessing a firearm when attending a school sponsored curricular or extracurricular activity do not apply if (1) the person is not a participant in, or chaperone or spectator of, the extracurricular activity and (2) the extracurricular activity is conducted in a public place. Adds that the statute does not apply to a person in a vehicle on a road not maintained by the school that crosses the educational property if the person has a weapon, including an open or concealed handgun, within the locked vehicle and the person stays in the vehicle while crossing the property and only unlocks the vehicle for the entrance or exit of someone else. Adds that the statute does not apply to a person with a valid concealed handgun permit, or who is exempt from obtaining a permit if all of the following apply: (1) the person possesses and carries a handgun on educational property other than an institution of higher education or a nonpublic, post-secondary education institution; (2) the education property is the location of both a school and a building that is a place of religious worship; (3) the weapon is a handgun; and (4) the handgun is only possessed and carried on educational property outside of the school operating hours.

Part V is effective December 1, 2019, and applies to offenses committed on or after that date.

Part VI. Pistol Permit/Mental Health Record to Sheriff

Amends GS 14-404 as follows. Amends the information that an applicant for a pistol permit must submit to no longer require a signed release that authorizes and requires disclosure to the sheriff of any court orders concerning the applicant's mental health or capacity. Instead, adds that the sheriff must request disclosure of any court orders concerning the applicant's mental health or mental capacity. Specifies that this is not to be construed to increase the documentation an applicant is required to provide or to increase the time period. Requires that the permit application include a specified warning that the applicant is giving the sheriff authority to obtain criminal and mental health court orders. Makes conforming changes.

Amends GS 122C-54 by deleting (d2) concerning a sheriff's access to records of involuntary commitment reported to the National Instant Criminal Background Check System. Adds that when a sheriff gives the potential holder of a mental health order written notification that an individual has applied for a pistol purchase permit, the holder of any mental health or capacity court orders must release the orders concerning the applicant to the sheriff.

Part VI is effective August 1, 2019, and applies to applications for pistol purchases pending or submitted on or after that date.

Part VII. Other Changes to Weapons Law and Additional Conforming Changes

Amends GS 14-269.1, as amended in Section 2.2 of the act, to clarify that weapons used in specified crimes must be returned to their rightful owners under specified conditions, unless the rightful owner is the convicted defendant, in which case the presiding judge may dispose of the weapon as specified at the judge's discretion. Adds that if the weapon is owned by the defendant and the defendant is not convicted as provided in the statute, then the presiding judge must order the weapon returned to the defendant.

Amends GS 15-11.1 (seizure, custody, and disposition of articles; exceptions) to provide that after a hearing, the judge must order the disposition of the firearm (which has been determined to no longer be necessary or useful as evidence in a criminal trial) by ordering that the firearm be returned to its rightful owner if the owner is someone other than the defendant and the court makes the required findings. Allows the firearm to be disposed of in the other listed ways if the defendant is the rightful owner.

Enacts new GS 14-277.9 (Going armed to the terror of the people). Creates a new Class 1 misdemeanor for persons who arm themselves with an unusual and dangerous weapon for the purpose of terrifying others, and go about on public highways in a manner to cause terror to the people. Provides that no person may be convicted of this crime based only upon the person's possession or carrying of a handgun, whether openly or concealed.

Part VII is effective December 1, 2019, and applies to offenses committed on or after that date.

Part VIII. Develop Comprehensive Firearm Education and Wildlife Conservation Courses

Enacts new GS 115C-81.90 requiring the State Board of Education, in consultation with law enforcement agencies and firearms associations, to develop a firearm education course that can be offered as a high school elective. Specifies elements that must be included in the course, requires that it rely on input from law enforcement agencies and firearms associations as well as related scientific engineering and design-related educational sources, and prohibits the use of live ammunition in the course. Requires that the course be supervised by an adult approved by the school principal.

Enacts new GS 115C-81.95 requiring the State Board of Education, in consultation with the Wildlife Resources Commission, the Division of Marine Fisheries, and the Wildlife Management Institute, to develop a comprehensive course on the North American Model for Wildlife Conservation that can be offered as a high school elective.

Part VIII is effective when it becomes law and applies beginning with the 2019-20 school year.

Part IX. Effective Date

Makes section 9.1 (which includes only the effective date provisions) effective July 1, 2019. Specifies that unless otherwise provided, the remainder of the act is effective December 1, 2019.

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