A handgun and keys are placed next to a Bible.
A handgun and keys are placed next to a Bible. (Source: Church Leaders)

NC Governor Again Vetoes Gun-rights Bill for More Churches

By Gary D. Robertson

North Carolina Gov. Roy Cooper vetoed gun-rights legislation on Friday that would allow parishioners at more churches to be armed, marking the second year in a row that he’s blocked the idea.

The legislation affirms that people going to religious services at a location where private schools or some charter schools also meet can carry handguns in full view or under clothing if they have a concealed weapons permit. There would be other limits.

The Democratic governor said the measure, which cleared the legislature last week, would endanger educators and children. State law otherwise prohibits guns on educational property for nearly everyone.

“For the safety of students and teachers, North Carolina should keep guns off school grounds,” Cooper wrote in his veto message.

The bill’s supporters contend these houses of worship where K-12 schools also are located are at a security disadvantage for their congregants compared to stand-alone churches. There are no such blanket prohibitions in these churches on carrying a pistol, provided the person has a purchase permit or concealed weapons permit.

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The bill also contains another provision that allows additional law enforcement employees — such as a civilian front desk worker at a police station — to carry a concealed weapon on the job if the police chief or sheriff allows it and the person has a concealed permit.

Both items were contained in a broader 2020 gun bill that Cooper also vetoed. Like last year, several House and Senate Democrats joined Republicans in initially voting for the measure before the veto. During the GOP attempt to override the 2020 veto, Cooper managed to collect additional House Democratic votes to uphold his veto. He’ll have to do the same thing this year to stop the measure.

Ministers of several churches with affiliated schools spoke in committee this year to request the option to be armed in light of high-profile reports of shooters targeting congregations.

Paul Valone with the gun-rights group Grass Roots North Carolina said “there is no rational reason” for the veto, especially since concealed weapons holders have been able to carry in many churches for 25 years due to state law. He urged lawmakers to override it.

“I didn’t think after the violent attacks in churches across the nation that it would be controversial to allow our citizens to protect themselves in church on Sundays, but the governor’s blind opposition to the Second Amendment seems to outweigh common-sense legislation,” said the bill’s chief’s sponsor, GOP Sen. Danny Britt of Robeson County.

In response to concerns about student safety, the measure contains language stating permit holders can only carry a gun on the church campus outside operating and extracurricular hours at the school. Like standalone places of worship, the churches also could opt out and prohibit weapons by posting a sign.

Democratic opponents of the measure said these churches should hire private security, instead of encouraging shootouts. If the bill became law, people are unlikely to understand the distinction that guns must be left at home when school activities are happening, according to the North Carolinians Against Gun Violence Action Fund.

“We thank Gov. Cooper for vetoing this dangerous bill that circumvents state policy outlawing concealed carry of firearms on school grounds and would put school children at more risk of gun violence,” Action Fund executive director Becky Ceartas said in a news release.

Cooper’s action is just his second veto this year. He vetoed 25 bills during the previous two-year legislative session, none of which were overridden.

Gary D. Robertson writes for The Associated Press.



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14 thoughts on “NC Governor Again Vetoes Gun-rights Bill for More Churches”

  1. Jeff Gilbertson

    Stupid. If a criminal wants to shoot up a bunch of known-to-be-unarmed people, the governor just ensured that churches are included on the hit list.

  2. Hendrik Kanavel

    What NC needs is a legislature similar to the General Assembly of KY. We have a Democratic governor who’s vetos are usually overridden by the GA.

  3. I am confused. God protects conservative Christians from COVID, but He can’t protect them from gun violence?

    1. Sophie Mendelsohn

      Yawn. Way to post a lame comment that has zero to do with topic. But you know that and are just here to shame people about their faith and antagonize them into a fight. If you actually went to church, you would know the majority of them bent over backwards to keep with covid recommendations.

    2. Brian Patrick

      Jeanine Nolen,

      We’ll talk when your state legislature passes a law banning masks in churches, okay?

  4. Marin Heiskell

    I don’t think the answer to gun violence is as simple as arming more people. Let’s expand the conversation.

    1. I would be interested in knowing how many people who commit gun violence have a permit to carry. That percentage information would be very useful.

    2. Brian Patrick

      Marin Heiskell,

      80 years of gun control, and a near-total ban on guns in the largest, most influential and important states like CA and NY… haven’t worked. The last time I checked, the definition of insanity is persisting with the same course of action hoping for a different outcome.

      In 1930–kids could ride their bikes to school with a Tommy Gun over the handlebars that they ordered from their Sears catalog in many places without batting an eye–yet school massacres were nonexistent. What changed? When was the last time you heard of a Columbine- or Pulse- style slaughter in Arizona, anti-gun California’s neighbor that has the most lax gun laws of the lower 48?

      I say it’s time for society to try something different.

      1. Marin Heiskell

        @Brian When was the last time you heard of a mass shooting in Canada? Or the UK? Or Australia? These are all countries that have reasonable gun laws (and in Australia’s case, did a full on “gun trade in”).
        Why didn’t you list these “anti gun” countries as examples? They found a way to combat gun violence WITHOUT arming everyone at every moment of the day. When I say it’s time to try something new, I think it’s time we make case studies out of countries that are clearly doing SOMETHING right.

        By the way, THREE DAYS AGO, there was a gunman who went on a shooting rampage that killed 1 and injured 12 just outside of Phoenix.

    3. Rochelle Bharath

      Marin Heiskell, the answer to taking down an armed man/woman that walks into a church or school or any building and starts shooting innocent people, is to have an armed man or woman with a concealed weapon and a permit to carry that weapon, being in that building at that particular time, and being able to use his/her gun to take down the shooter.

      1. Marin Heiskell

        @Rochelle – I’m talking about thinking further “upstream” than that. We focus so much on REACTING to a moment and not enough on PREVENTING the moment from happening in the first place (e.g., like how we have imbalanced spending and focus on health care for AFTER we get sick, and don’t allocate NEARLY enough resources on keeping us from getting sick in the first place). What is the cause of all of these mass shootings? What resources are we pouring into preventing these from even happening in the first place? I wish the conversation could start there. (And if you haven’t read the book “Upstream” by Dan Heath, he explores some interesting case studies on how and if we were to shift our resources “upstream” as a start).

        The countries I listed (UK, Canada, Australia) have done a better job of preventing these shootings from happening in the first place. I’d love for us as a nation to be humble enough to get past our “we Americans are SO right all the time…our way is ALWAYS the best!” attitude and consider what these other countries are doing that we CLEARLY are NOT. We are losing too many innocent lives to gun violence; it should be worth it.

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