A bill that would allow concealed carry holders to attend church services held on properties where a private school is located was vetoed by North Carolina Gov. Roy Cooper last week, but the Republican Speaker of the House says there are enough votes in the legislature to override the governor’s objections.
House Bill 652 would allow concealed permit holders to lawfully carry during services held at private schools, as long as classes are not in session and the property owner has given approval of the practice. Already in North Carolina concealed carry holders are legally allowed to carry in freestanding churches across the state, so this bill is really a minor fix, though it does also contain a provision that would allow non-police first responders to lawfully carry when they are working with SWAT teams and other police agencies.
Cooper didn’t mention that provision when he vetoed the bill, however. Instead, he said the bill “threatens the safety of students and teachers,” even though the bill has nothing to do with firearms in an actual school environment with students present. Now it sounds like House Speaker Tim Moore wants to try to override the governor’s veto. From the Charlotte Observer:
In a statement, Moore referred to earlier pandemic restrictions on attendance at indoor church services in North Carolina, which a federal judge blocked in May.
“After unconstitutionally denying churchgoers the right to worship freely until a federal judge ordered him to permit religious services, Governor Cooper now refuses those same North Carolinians their 2nd amendment rights to protect themselves by vetoing a strongly bipartisan bill,” Moore said in the statement.
Based on the House vote of 77 years and 38 nays, with 12 Democrats supporting the measure along with every Republican, Moore indeed has the votes, at least on paper, to override the governor’s veto. However, as the Charlotte Observer points out, since Democrats gained enough seats in 2018 to end the GOP’s veto-proof majority, no veto has actually been overridden, no matter how much bipartisan support the bill may have originally received.
When push comes to shove, enough Democrats have swapped their votes in the name of party unity that Gov. Cooper’s been able to stymie the Republican legislature for nearly two years. Will that hold true in this case, however? Many of the twelve Democrats who voted for HB 652 hail from more rural districts, and are likely home to several small churches with private schools attached that are directly impacted by Cooper’s veto. With Election Day just a few months ahead, these Democrats may not be as willing to fall in line behind Gov. Cooper and allowing his veto to stand.
The state House has HB 652 on its calendar for Wednesday, but that doesn’t guarantee that an override attempt will take place then. At the moment, North Carolina gun owners, particularly those represented by the dozen Democrats who voted in favor of the bill the first time around, need to be in contact with their lawmakers and urging them to take a common sense stand in support of the right of self-defense, private property rights, and the right to keep and bear arms.