Gun Rights Supporters:

Many have conjectured why H. 652 failed this week, who was responsible, and what it means to gun rights in North Carolina. Let’s discuss all three questions.

What did H. 652 do and who voted for it?

As you probably know, H. 652 would have legalized concealed carry in churches which sponsor schools. Currently, those churches are considered “educational property” where carrying a firearm is a felony. Among other provisions, it also contained a measure for EMS personnel to carry concealed firearms, which may have initially drawn some Democrat support.

Initially, it passed with theoretically veto-proof majorities in both the House and Senate because 12 Democrats joined Republicans in supporting the bill in the House, and 5 in the Senate.

NC House Democrats who originally supported H. 652 are: Chaz Beasley (D-Mecklenburg); Scott Brewer (D- Montgomery,  Richmond,  Stanly); Jean Farmer-Butterfield (D-Wilson); Elmer Floyd (D-Cumberland); Charles Graham (D-Robeson); Joe John (D-Wake); Marvin Lucas (D-Cumberland); Garland Pierce (D- Hoke, Scotland); Joe Sam Queen (D- Haywood, Jackson, Swain); Ray Russell (D- Ashe, Watauga); Brian Turner (D-Buncombe); and Michael Wray (D- Halifax, Northampton).

NC Senate, Democrats who originally supported H. 652 are: Jay Chaudhuri (D-Wake); Don Davis (D- Greene, Pitt); Kirk deViere (D- Cumberland); Harper Peterson (D- New Hanover); and Erica Smith (D- Beaufort, Bertie, Martin, Northampton, Vance, Warren).

In both chambers, all Republicans voted for H. 652.

Democrat support was required because in the 2018 elections, Republicans lost the 3/5 supermajority required to override the inevitable Roy Cooper veto.

Why H. 652 failed

But in the House vote, six of the twelve Democrats changed their votes by voting NOT to override Cooper’s veto, and the bill fell three votes short of the 69 required for an over-ride, killing it. 

All 60 Republicans present voted for the bill, with Republicans Jay Adams R-Catawba), Larry Pittman, (R-Cabarrus), Jeffrey McNeely (R-Iredell), Keith Kidwell (R- Beaufort, Craven), John Fraley (R-Iredell), Michael Speciale (R-Craven), Allen McNeill (R- Moore, Randolph), Dean Arp (R-Union) and Destin Hall (R-Caldwell) making impassioned pleas for the bill.

Reps. Kidwell and McNeely made particularly compelling presentations which can be heard by clicking here (H.652 starts at 59:10).
Democrats who betrayed their constituents

Democrats who changed their vote, of voting for H. 652 the first time but knuckling under to pressure from Gov. Cooper and Democrat leadership on the override vote are Reps. Beasley, Farmer-Butterfield, John, Lucas, Pierce, and Brian Turner. (Note: Rep. Russell told me personally that he voted for H. 652 only for the EMS provision, that he vociferously opposed church carry, and would stop going to any church which allowed it.)

The cowardice of these Democrats in changing their votes betrayed not only you, but the members of churches in their districts which will now remain unprotected, even while other churches (and in some cases, the churches of these Democrats) are protected. For an excellent summary of this, go to John Richardson’s blog at:

Are Republicans to blame?

I’ve heard gun rights advocates blaming Republicans because, after all, they could have passed H. 652 prior to 2018 when they had a supermajority.

Yes, Republicans could have passed church carry prior to 2018. In fairness, however, Republicans gave us three massive, omnibus pro-gun bills – H. 650, 937 and 562 – which gave us Castle Doctrine, parks carry, restaurant carry and far more. During the same period, Republicans also repealed the state of emergency gun ban which allows lawful citizens to protect themselves during the riots, and has enabled us to keep gun shops open during the pandemic. 

Did they incorrectly decide they had given us “enough?” Perhaps. But I hesitate to saddle blame on the party that passed three major pro-gun reforms.

Others have speculated that H. 652 would have had enough votes for an override if the five Republicans not present had voted. One even spoke of “cooperation” between the five and the Democrats.

Both assertions are false. Without supermajorities, Republicans have returned to Raleigh repeatedly yet failed to override any of the 25 vetoes Roy Cooper has issued since April, 2019. The five Republicans in question had excused absences not only for H. 652, but for all votes held that day.

Moreover, had all 65 Republicans voted for the bill, it still would have failed. Cynical though it might seem, Democrat leadership gave the Democrats who voted for the bill a “pass” to vote for a bill leadership (i.e. Cooper) opposed. They did so for party members in sensitive districts. But Democrats only gave enough votes for the bill to fail. If more Republicans voted, Cooper & Co. would simply have given fewer Dems a pass.

“It’s all politics,” said one observer. “Republicans knew the bill would fail and they did it just for political reasons.” 

Really? For those who think that way, congratulations: you just mimicked the argument of anti-gun Rep. Derwin Montgomery (D-Forsyth), who insisted Republicans shouldn’t bring up the bill because Democrats don’t support it. By that logic, we should apparently let the Democrats drive the entire gun rights agenda.

What all of this means for NC gun rights

Once upon a time, there existed pro-gun Democrats. Two Democrats sponsored GRNC’s reciprocity bills; a Democrat governor signed our Castle Doctrine bill into law.

But those days are gone. In the current political environment, even a “good” Democrat will inevitably be drawn to the dark side by leftist party leadership.

Moreover, short of a Republican supermajority – unlikely due to Eric Holder’s lawsuit which forced re-drawing of districts to favor Democrats – Cooper has got to go. GRNC-PVF will be working hard to elect Dan Forest for Governor.

We need to change this ASAP...

Given the realities, I am asking you to contribute to the GRNC Political Victory Fund. As you may know, GRNC is restricted by law in using membership money to impact elections, meaning we have to raise election funds separately.

GRNC-PVF is our weapon for electing pro-gun candidates. Rather than throwing money at politicians, GRNC-PVF does “independent expenditures” including:

  • Tens of thousands of mailings;
  • Thousands of dollars in radio advertising; 
  • Tens of thousands of automated phone alerts;
  • Thousands of dollars in social media advertising; and
  • Millions of election alert emails.

Please help by making a donation at:

Your donation will help GRNC elect pro-gun candidates and defeat anti-gun candidates. This year, we are going to need all the help we can get.

 Armatissimi e liberissimi,


F. Paul Valone
President, Grass Roots North Carolina

Executive Director, Rights Watch International 

Radio host, Guns, Politics and Freedom

P.S. I realize you have lots of competing interests but, in the 2020 elections, our rights are at stake. So I am asking you to take a moment away from your busy life to help GRNC-PVF defend gun rights from the leftist onslaught. $250, 100, $50, even $25 will help the GRNC Political Victory Fund to prevail.