File photo | Jefferson Post
Ashe County Sheriff James Williams
Sweeping gun legislation passed through the N.C. Senate on Thursday, and now awaits the approval of Gov. Pat McCrory before becoming law.
House Bill 937 will, along with other things, provide confidentiality of information regarding concealed handgun permits and the sale of handguns, removing that information from public record.
“Basically, H.B. 937 will make permit records confidential,” said Ashe County Sheriff James Williams.
“The list of permit holders and the information collected by the sheriff to process an application for a permit are confidential and are not public record under G.S. 132-1. The sheriff shall make the list of permit holders and the permit information available upon request to all state and local law enforcement agencies,” reads H.B. 937.
According to Williams, both he and the N.C. Sheriff’s Association support making gun permits confidential.
“If people get into those records, they can access personal information on gun owners,” said Williams, “you wouldn’t want any Tom, Dick and Harry looking through your personal information.”
“I don’t see any reason why anyone would need to know that information,” said Williams.
H.B. 937 will also make it a criminal offense for children to have access to a dangerous firearm.
“It shall be unlawful for any person to knowingly permit a child under the age of 12 years to have access to, or possession, custody or use in any manner whatever, of any gun, pistol or other dangerous firearm, whether such weapon be loaded or unloaded, unless the person has the permission of the child’s parent or guardian, and the child is under the supervision of an adult. Any person violating the provisions of this section shall be guilty of a Class 2 misdemeanor,” read the bill.
The bill does not classify air rifles, air pistols and BB guns as dangerous firearms, except in Anson, Caldwell, Caswell, Chowan, Cleveland, Cumberland, Durham, Forsyth, Gaston, Harnett, Hatwood, Mecklenburg, Stanley, Stokes, Surry, Union and Vance counties.
The bill also increase penalties for certain crimes involving firearms, allows employees of institutions of higher education to carry concealed firearms on certain types of residences on campus, and allows hunters to use a suppressor to muffle the sounds of their firearms.
Also, H.B. 937 allows any person with a concealed handgun permit to carry the concealed firearm in state government parking lots, to an assembly where admission is charged or to an establishment where alcoholic beverages are sold, at a parade or funeral possession. Also, the bill allows a permit-holder to have a concealed handgun in a locked compartment in a vehicle on educational property.
Finally, the bill also clarifies established gun laws and establishes uniform state requirements for reporting information concerning mental health to the national instant criminal background check system, making those laws more consistant with federal firearms laws.