FILE — Guns

(The Center Square) – House Democrats are pushing for the North Carolina General Assembly to debate two bills that would change gun laws in the state.

House Bill 525 would allow North Carolina residents to stop other people from obtaining a firearm in certain situations. House Bill 623 would require a permit for "long guns," or long-barrelled guns.

Democrats have pushed for the legislation in previous sessions after gun violence incidents. House Democrats filed discharge petitions to move the bills out of committee and to the full House for debate this week.

"This is common-sense gun safety legislation to prevent suicides and gun violence," Rep. Marcia Morey, D-Durham, said regarding HB 525. "We need 61 members to get this bill debated."

Republicans hold the majority in both chambers of the Legislature. There are 52 Democrats and 68 Republicans in the House. Democrats have not been able to successfully move a bill from committee for the past few years, Rep. Julie von Haefen, D-Wake, said last week during a news conference.

Under HB 525, a law enforcement officer or "concerned citizen" can file a petition to temporarily halt another's person's right to have a firearm. It allows North Carolinians to file for Extreme Risk Protection Orders, which would stop a person who appears to be a risk to themself or others from obtaining a firearm.

Backers of the bill said it would reduce gun deaths and injures. Nearly 20,000 Americans were killed by gun violence in 2020, according to the Gun Violence Archive. As of Monday, 4,467 North Carolina residents have died from gun violence in North Carolina since 2014, according to the archive.

Democrats filed a discharge petition for a similar bill during the 2019 legislative session, but it never cleared the House Committee on Judiciary. More than a dozen states have enacted similar laws dubbed red-flag legislation, and others proposed the restrictions when Democrats filed the petition in August 2019 in the aftermath of shootings in El Paso, Texas, and Dayton, Ohio.

Opponents of red-flag legislation argue they infringe on Americans' rights to bear arms.

The North Carolina Firearms Coalition said if the legislation passes, a person's enemy or ex-spouse could make false claims against them. The bill would implement a penalty for bogus claims, but the coalition said there is no "good version" of the legislation.

HB 623 would require North Carolinians to apply for a permit from a local sheriff's office to buy a "long gun" or rifle. Current law requires North Carolina residents to seek a permit for pistols. The General Assembly recently passed a bill, which Gov. Roy Cooper later vetoed, to eliminate the requirement.

Cooper, in his Aug. 30 veto message, said the permit laws reduce gun homicides, suicides and the availability of guns for criminal activity. Republicans said the governor's veto blocked North Carolinians' "fundamental constitutional rights" under the Second Amendment.

Staff Reporter

Nyamekye Daniel has been a journalist for five years. She was the managing editor for the South Florida Media Network and a staff writer for The Miami Times. Daniel's work has also appeared in the Sun-Sentinel, Miami Herald and The New York Times.