North Carolina Governor Vetoes Church Carry Bill

AP Photo/Cliff Owen

A bill that would have allowed individuals with concealed carry licenses to carry inside of churches that have schools on the same property was vetoed by North Carolina Roy Cooper a couple of days ago, despite the fact that the legislation was approved in a bipartisan vote that garnered the approval of several Democratic legislators.

In his veto message, Cooper chided lawmakers for sending the bill to his desk, claiming that “for the safety of students and teachers, North Carolina should keep guns off school grounds.” Cooper’s argument doesn’t make a lot of sense, however, given the fact that the bill had been amended to limit concealed carry to those hours when schools on church property are not in session.

.Paul Valone with the gun-rights group Grass Roots North Carolina said “there is no rational reason” for the veto, especially since concealed weapons holders have been able to carry in many churches for 25 years due to state law. He urged lawmakers to override it.

“I didn’t think after the violent attacks in churches across the nation that it would be controversial to allow our citizens to protect themselves in church on Sundays, but the governor’s blind opposition to the Second Amendment seems to outweigh common-sense legislation,” said the bill’s chief’s sponsor, GOP Sen. Danny Britt of Robeson County.

In response, Democrats and gun control advocates channeled their inner Marie Antoinette, claiming that anyone concerned about church security should simply bring on armed guards.

Democratic opponents of the measure said these churches should hire private security, instead of encouraging shootouts. If the bill became law, people are unlikely to understand the distinction that guns must be left at home when school activities are happening, according to the North Carolinians Against Gun Violence Action Fund.

“We thank Gov. Cooper for vetoing this dangerous bill that circumvents state policy outlawing concealed carry of firearms on school grounds and would put school children at more risk of gun violence,” Action Fund executive director Becky Ceartas said in a news release.

This is a dumb argument on multiple levels. First, it’s not financially feasible for many small churches to hire armed guards during worship services, which is why pastors wanted the ability to set up their own church security teams that included armed and trained parishioners. Secondly, if you truly believe that the presence of armed citizens encourages shootouts, why wouldn’t that apply to the presence of armed guards too?

As for Ceartas’ claim that North Carolinians would have been confused by the bill’s language restricting carry only those hours when school isn’t in session, I’d argue the current law is even more confusing. Church carry is already allowed in those facilities that don’t have a school on the property, so this bill would have simply provided a uniform standard for all houses of worship instead of the double standard that Gov. Cooper and gun control activists want to keep in place.

The real reason why Cooper vetoed this bill has nothing to do with student safety. Those concerns were already addressed by lawmakers during the legislative process. No, this is simply about opposing any expansion of the Second Amendment, even if it means denying property owners and pastors the ability to determine for themselves how best to protect their flock.

There’s a slight chance that Cooper’s veto could be overridden by the legislature, but in order for that to happen the Democrats who voted in favor of the bill are going to have to stand firm. Given the fact that none of Cooper’s previous vetoes have been successfully challenged, that’s not likely to happen, but I hope that gun owners and churchgoers across the state keep up the pressure and urge those who voted for this legislation during the regular session to stand by their convictions and reject the governor’s veto of this fairly modest, yet common sense measure.