This call to action relates to a Second Amendment issue. It came to my attention first via an e-mail alert from Grassroots North Carolina (GRNC), and concerns pending NC General Assembly legislation that will make the penalties more severe for carrying a firearm into a space, public or private, in which they are prohibited. As most will know, such spaces typically include most buildings owned by the Federal, state, county, or municipal governments, as well as any privately owned building or open space on which the owner has posted a sign advising the public that concealed or open carry is not allowed. In addition, in many instances, the prohibition extends to the building’s parking lot or parking structure, even when the prohibiting sign is not visible until the individual enters the adjacent building.
Unfortunately, some folks will occasionally violate the law unintentionally regardless of whether they have a valid CCL. In recognition of this, the original CCL legislation made a first offense a Class 2 misdemeanor, and the subsequent offenses a Class 1 felony. The revised penalties, incorporated at the last minute by the NC-House, make the first offense a Class A1 misdemeanor, and subsequent offenses a Class H felony.
The GRNC alert did not give much in the way of detail, but this afternoon Paul Valone, who heads up Grassroots North Carolina, was kind enough to fill in some gaps for me. The essence of it is — JAIL TIME! The original Class 2 misdemeanor did not involve jail time, but the proposed change to a Class A1 misdemeanor may very possibly mean jail time for granny if she fails to lock her glove box when her pistol is inside!
It is not clear at the moment, but it looks as if this started out as a omnibus (everything but the kitchen sink) Senate bill that went to the House, where the objectionable amendments were added. Representative Larry Pittman tried to add an amendment that would have nullified the penalty escalations, but his amendment was defeated (and Pat McElraft voted to defeat it). The House went on to pass the bill with the stronger penalties (and McElraft voted for it), and it has now moved to the Senate. The Senate will vote first on the amendments that the House made to the bill, then on the revised bill a few days later.
What we must do now is to let our NC-Senators know that we do not want the Senate to agree to these penalty escalations that were incorporated by the House at the last minute. Since the Senate may vote as early as Wednesday, please contact your Senator immediately, by e-mail and/or phone, to say some variation of this:
Please Do Not Approve The House Amendments to SB-594
Please do not vote to approve the provisions added by the House to SB-594, the “Omnibus Justice Amendments”, as the provisions include harsher penalties for violated the prohibited spaces measures in North Carolina’s concealed and open firearms carrying statutes. I ask you to act so that inadvertent, first time violations do not result in well-meaning citizens becoming eligible for jail time upon conviction.
Thanks for your attention to this constituent contact.
Name, address, etc..
Senator Norm Sanderson’s e-mail is Norman.Sanderson@ncleg.net, and his office phone number is 919/733-5706. I think it would also be helpful if Representative McElraft were copied on any e-mail messages that are sent. Her e-mail address is PatM@ncleg.net.
Please respond to this call to action, and if you wish, you may also copy me on any e-mail messages with the address VMT@Salacia.com.
I sent Senator Sanderson an e-mail, and followed by calling to leave a message on his Raleigh office phone. When I hung up a couple of minutes ago, his message box was NOT YET FULL. Get cracking, tea partiers.
When I briefed the members attending our Tuesday night meeting on this issue, some wanted to know who among the General Assembly legislators was responsible for initiating this new penalty provision in the House and/or Senate bills. As it happens, the folks at GRNC have put up an informative timeline, HERE, which I would commend to all who value common sense gun laws. And it is NOT TOO LATE to let your voice be heard. If you haven’t done so, send your elected representatives in the House and Senate an e-mail message to communicate your views.