The Republican-controlled North Carolina Senate on Tuesday voted to override the Democratic governor’s first veto in the session on gun control legislation, passing the first test of House party unity under new operating rules.
The Senate voted 30-19 party lines to reinstate a gun access package that would remove the requirement for handgun buyers to obtain a permit from their county sheriff.
“What we’re doing in this bill would not make individuals any less secure,” said Sen. Danny Britt, a Robeson County Republican and lead sponsor.
While Republicans hold a supermajority in the state Senate — the three-fifths needed to bypass a veto from Gov. Roy Cooper — they lack a seat to a similar majority in the House of Representatives.
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Three House Democrats voted in favor of the gun law earlier this month, along with all Republicans in attendance, indicating it could be repealed for the first time since 2018.”
The House of Representatives is scheduled to hold an override vote Wednesday morning, Moore said.
New House Rules passed earlier this year eliminated a 48-hour notice for override votes and allowed them to take place on the same day the bill is received from the Senate or the governor. Some unscheduled outcomes could depend on who is present in the Chamber at the time of the vote.
While Republicans said the sheriff’s screening process to purchase a handgun was no longer necessary given significant updates to the national background check system, Democrats warned that criminals and those with mental illnesses could get guns more easily without it.
They said the repeal would create a loophole because background checks are not mandatory for private gun sales or exchanges between individuals, which only require the sheriff-issued permit.
Sen. Sydney Batch, a Wake County Democrat, reminded lawmakers that they were deciding whether to expand gun access a day after the death of six people in a school shooting in neighboring Tennessee.
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Britt earlier Tuesday urged senators not to use the Tennessee shooting to “score political points.”
“While six families woke up this morning in Nashville grieving the agonizing loss of their children and loved ones, we are here today to make it easier for people desperate to cause mass murder to buy a gun,” Batch said.
Proponents of the bill argue that private exchanges account for a very small percentage of total gun sales and that criminals are unlikely to get permits anyway.
In 2021, Cooper successfully blocked standalone versions of the repeal of the handgun purchase permit and another provision allowing guns on some school properties where services are held.
Guns would not be allowed on campus during school hours or when students are present for extracurricular activities. Gun owners can already carry freestanding churches who choose to do so.
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Cooper called it “outrageous” that GOP leaders announced the Senate vote immediately after the school shooting in Tennessee.
“Hours after children were shot at their school, NC GOP leaders announced a vote to scrap strict NC background checks and make it easier for dangerous people to buy guns and bring them onto some school campuses,” the governor said in a tweet.
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