North Carolina Gov. Roy Cooper was once a Second Amendment supporter, at least politically, but as support for gun control became an increasingly important litmus test for Democrats over the past decade, he’s become a reliable ally of Everytown and other gun control groups. Shannon Watts will be singing his praises on Twitter (I assume, anyway. She blocked me years ago.) after Cooper vetoed a common sense bill that would have allowed parishioners to carry while services were taking place. From North State Journal:
On his veto of House Bill 652, Cooper said, “This bill allows guns on school property, which threatens the safety of students and teachers.”
The measure passed by bipartisan votes of 33-14 in the Senate and 77-38 in the House.
House Bill 652 allows law-abiding citizens who hold a concealed handgun permit to carry a handgun to defend themselves and their loved ones when attending religious worship taking place on private property that is both a school and place of worship if it does not prohibit firearms, according to the NRA Institute for Legislative Action.
The NRA-ILA supported the bill, which was similar to a bill in Texas that allowed a citizen to defend a congregation from an attack last year. The bill also contained a provision allowing sheriffs to accept a refresher course for lapsed concealed carry permits.
Keep in mind that the law in North Carolina already recognizes that individuals who are legally carrying their firearm can do so in a freestanding church that doesn’t prohibit the practice. This bill simply allowed for that same practice to take place if the church service was being held at a private school. It’s a minor change at best, and simply provides equity for those worshippers who attend smaller churches that may not own their own space.
Cooper’s statement that the bill threatens teachers and students is also nonsensical. First off, are church services generally held during school hours? Do you know a lot of private schools that hold regular classes on Sunday mornings or Wednesday evening? Do you know any churches that hold services at 10:30 on a Thursday morning?
There’s also the fact that before any parishioner could carry, the private property owners would have to sign off on the practice. Governor Cooper is refusing to allow these property owners to decide for themselves what they want their policy to be. Not only is it an attack on the Second Amendment rights of a relatively small number of churchgoers, it’s a much more broad attack on the private property rights of North Carolinians.
This is a far cry from the Roy Cooper of just a few years ago, as the Civitas Institute in North Carolina pointed out last year.
After mass shootings dominated recent headlines, Cooper has rapidly moved to the left, embracing positions more aligned with an increasingly liberal Democrat Party and activists. While Cooper once received “A” ratings and financial support from the NRA, he now embraces more and more stringent gun-control measures. And while he is often quick to position himself with national Democrats on most issues, a gun-control agenda can easily place him out of step with millions of North Carolinians, one of the most rural states in our nation.
The Second Amendment didn’t leave Roy Cooper, he left the Second Amendment. As recently as 2016 Cooper, then in the legislature, sided with gun owners more than half the time, according to both NRA and Grassroots NC legislative scorecards. Since he’s become governor, however, he’s been downright hostile to the right to keep and bear arms, though his hands have been largely tied by the Republican-controlled legislature.
In August of 2019, however, Cooper issued a “gun safety” executive order that ostensibly was to call for more criminal records to be submitted to NICS but was in actuality an excuse to push for two gun control bills; a “red flag” firearms seizure law and an omnibus bill that would have imposed a 72-hour waiting period on gun sales, instituted a ban on so-called assault weapons and “large capacity” magazines, required liability insurance for gun owners, and many other awful features that are aimed squarely at legal gun owners and not those responsible for most violent and gun-related crime.
Thankfully, those bills went nowhere, and with gun sales soaring in North Carolina just like the rest of the country, if I were running against Cooper this fall, I’d be highlighting his support of that sweeping anti-gun bill every chance I could get. Lt. Gov. Dan Forest has been trailing Gov. Cooper in recent polls, but Cooper only won election in 2016 by 10,000 votes statewide. Gun owners new and old need to be reminded of the fact that Cooper’s plans would greatly infringe on their right to keep and bear arms.
Forest could also try to make inroads with independents and non-gun owners who may be concerned about policing by pointing out that Cooper wants to create a host of new victimless crimes involving the simple possession of a firearm. Each component of the omnibus bill that Cooper is backing is another excuse for police to arrest someone. Their magazine is too big. Their gun is too black. They own a gun but they don’t have the money to pay for Cooper’s mandated liability insurance.
Not only are these gun laws unconstitutional, they will absolutely have a disproportionate effect on lower-income North Carolinians. Black residents too will be more likely to be arrested for these newly created crimes, particularly in Democrat-controlled cities where the laws will be more likely to be strictly enforced.
Dan Forest has been given a golden opportunity to remind North Carolinians that Gov. Cooper is going slow when it comes to criminal justice and policing reforms, but he’s doing everything he can to reforming the right to keep and bear arms into a criminal offense. In a state that still has Jim Crow-era gun control laws on the books, both candidates should be working to ensure that North Carolinians have equal access to their Second Amendment rights, but at the moment Forest has that road open all to himself. Here’s hoping he takes it.