A measure designed to limit access to firearms for mentally ill people won approval in a House committee Wednesday, but not without much debate about other provisions in the legislation to loosen the state's gun laws.
The mental health provisions are aimed at preventing another Newtown school shooting, the bill's supporters said. It requires local clerks of court to report to the National Instant Criminal Background Check System within 48 hours when a person is committed for a mental illness, admitted for substance abuse treatment and a danger, deemed mentally incompetent in court and three other conditions.
But most of the discussion in the House Judiciary Subcommittee A focused on a provision in House bill 937 to allow concealed handgun permit holders in restaurants and bars that serve alcohol unless the establishment posts a sign prohibiting it. It also allows concealed carry permit holder to have a handgun in a locked vehicle at a public college or university.
A Republican lawmaker and the N.C. State campus police chief both spoke against the university provision, saying car break-ins are a major problem on campus. Democrats filed five amendments to change the bill, largely to weaken the ability to carry firearms in restaurants, but all failed. The bill now goes to the floor.
With the provisions to expand the ability to carry firearms, North Carolina is moving in a different direction than other states after major shootings in Colorado and Connecticut. But Rep. Justin Burr, a Republican co-sponsor of the bill, said the timing is good. "We are behind the times" compared to other states gun laws, he said