Bill aims to make gun records private
The first bill out of the gate during the 2013 General Assembly session is geared at making records of those with conceal-carry permits private.
House Bill 17, which was read into record on Thursday, would make the list of permit holders and any information collected by local law enforcement not subject to open records law. It would also make records collected by gun dealers private.
The bill comes on the heels of a recent New York publication printing a list of conceal-carry permit holders and their addresses.
"We're trying to prevent what happened in New York and the publication of where people with gun permits live," said state Rep. Mike Hager, R-Rutherfordton, a primary sponsor of the bill.
A North Carolina television station also used the public information to create an online database, searchable by the public.
Hager said that another purpose of the bill is to keep both weapon owners and non-weapon owners safe from potential burglary.
"It is the fact that burglars know where guns are at and they can go and take them," Hager said. "It's like a catalog almost.
"It also tells people who want to do harm where guns are. We are looking at it more like a safety issue."
Paul Valone, president of Grassroots NC, a proponent of anti-gun control, said that the media has used public records as a way to incite "fear mongering." That is a primary reason why his organization supports taking those records out of the public domain.
"We have seen instances in the media where those records have been abused," Valone said. "It is just not right."
Another provision of the bill allows those with conceal-carry permits to carry their weapons in restaurants where alcohol is served.
Current state law prevents anyone with a conceal-carry permit to have their weapon at a restaurant where alcohol is served. The new bill would allow weapons to be carried however, it would not change the provision that states weapon-holders cannot drink alcohol at those restaurants.
"We have never had an instance where conceal-carry has caused an issue at a restaurant," Hager said. "If they prove they are responsible and have been trained, they should be able conceal-carry in restaurants where alcohol is served."
The bill still allows restaurants to post signs prohibiting guns.
Valone said that the language on restaurant carrying is similar to what his group drafted during the last session.
"We have been trying for many years to get restaurant carry and have tried to get that through," Valone said.
While the bill was read into record on Thursday, it has yet to be assigned to a committee and Hager said it may be held pending other potential legislation.