Gun Rights Supporters: 

  Recent communications from a shadowy entity calling itself “North Carolina Gun Rights,” have admonished NC gun owners that House Bill 69 (“Constitutional Carry Act”) introduced by Representative Larry Pittman (R-Cabarrus, GRNC ****), is a “compromise carry” bill which “is nothing more than gun control dressed up in language designed to trick gun owners.” This entity has even obliquely referred to Grass Roots North Carolina as a “fraudulent” gun rights organization.

  Behind the entity are former operatives of the National Association for Gun Rights (NAGR), Noel Fritsch and Reilly O’Neal, who promised that Rep. Chris Millis (R-Onslow, Pender, ****) would introduce a “real” constitutional carry bill. Despite Fritsch and O'Neil's advance promotion of Rep. Millis's bill,  Rep. Millis has confirmed that Fritsch and O’Neal had absolutely nothing to do with drafting his bill, and he has indeed filed it as House Bill 201. GRNC thanks Rep. Millis for sponsoring HB 201, and for his 100% pro-gun voting record (including being one of only a handful of Republicans who voted against all weakening amendments to pro-gun HB 562 in 2015).

  But is HB 201 the “real” constitutional carry bill which puts Rep. Larry Pittman’s HB 69 to shame? Nope. With a few exceptions, HB 69 and HB 201 have similar goals. Either could be the platform for implementing Constitutional Carry in NC. Below is a preliminary analysis of the strong points and weak points of each. (Further analysis will be required to fully understand the implications of each bill.)

Commonalities of HB 69 and HB 201
  Both bills remove the need to have a concealed handgun permit to carry a concealed handgun in places where you may currently do so. Neither bill opens up new areas to concealed carry. (As we noted earlier, going after current “gun-free” zones in this bill would result in opposition from squishy Republicans. GRNC has already recruited sponsors to reduce such restrictions in other legislation.) Both bills create a new Article 54C which mirrors the prohibitions currently in place for permit-holders by applying them to people who carry without permits. Each bill has strong points and weak points.

Strengths and weaknesses of HB 201
  To give you a flavor for how “out of the loop” Fritsch and O’Neal are, they claimed that “under H.B. 69, a veteran who gets a divorce or is found guilty of committing adultery could be DENIED their right to carry in North Carolina.” That assertion was false because, unlike our present concealed handgun statute, HB 69 changes the prohibition for carrying concealed from veterans “other than honorably discharged” to just those dishonorably discharged. A dishonorable discharge results only from serious crimes involving courts martial.

  Savor the irony, however, that the flaw DOES exist in HB 201, the bill the duo claim is “real.” And why, you ask, does the Millis bill still contain the “other than honorable” flaw when it was corrected in Pittman’s bill? Because unlike HB 201, which was drafted without our input, GRNC helped Rep. Pittman draft HB 69 and corrected the flaw during the drafting process. (Decide for yourself which organization is “fraudulent.”)

  HB 201 also still requires concealed handgun permits for members of the National Guard, district attorneys, judges, magistrates, clerks of court, and others who choose to carry in sensitive areas. HB 69 eliminates the need for permits.

  Section 2 of HB 201 exempts from certain restrictions “any person listed in G.S. 14-415.41”, which creates a bit of a problem because G.S. 14-415.41 does not exist either in current law or in the language of HB 201. It does, however, exist in HB 69. This omission in HB 201 needs to be corrected.

  One “advantage” of HB 201 is that it also repeals NC's Jim Crow-era pistol purchase permit system. This, however, is a two-edged sword because it will raise opposition from the North Carolina Sheriffs’ Association and likely some GOP legislators. For these reasons, GRNC has recruited a sponsor for separate legislation to repeal the purchase permit system.

Strengths & weaknesses of HB 69
  As part of his new Article 54C, which regulates carrying concealed handguns without permits, Pittman’s bill creates new sections 14-415.36, 14-415.37, 14-415.38 and 14-415.39, all of which mirror “no carry zones” which are currently law. Creating new sections, however, is at best unnecessary and inelegant. At worst, it stands to inadvertently create new restrictions. We prefer Millis’s cleaner approach, which merely modifies the original sections 14-269.3, 14-269.4 and 14-277.2.

  An advantage of HB 69 is that it codifies concealed carry rights for those without permits which are identical to those with permits, whereas HB 201 still restricts concealed carry in certain circumstances to permit-holders alone.

Weaknesses in both bills
  Both HB 69 and HB 201 share two glaring flaws which could, if enacted, set us back. First, both create new language which increases the penalty for carrying into posted property from an infraction to a misdemeanor (G.S. 14-415.35 in HB 69, G.S. 14-415.36 in HB 201). HB 69 also specifically creates a new misdemeanor for carrying into a posted restaurant which serves alcohol (G.S. 140415.36). Having successfully fought to reduce carrying onto posted property from a misdemeanor to an infraction in previous legislation, GRNC finds this language unacceptable in either bill. That said, the flaws are undoubtedly unintended consequences of drafting complex legislation and can be easily corrected in committee.

What now?
  GRNC supports both HB 69 and HB 201. Provided we can get leadership to give constitutional carry a hearing, the likely outcome is a Proposed Committee Substitute bill comprising parts of both. The key will be getting constitutional carry out of committee, and that will require cooperation. What are not required are accusations that the most pro-gun legislators in the state are “lying” or trying to “trick” gun owners into accepting gun control.

  Please continue monitoring and responding to GRNC legislative alerts. With your help, we will make constitutional carry the law of the land. 


Armatissimi e liberissimi, 


F. Paul Valone
President, Grass Roots North Carolina
Executive Director, Rights Watch International