The North Carolina Criminal Justice Education & Training Standards Commission put off a vote on controversial new rules for firearm instructors on Friday, deciding instead to hold off on a final vote until at least November. This is very good news for gun trainers and gun owners across the state, though Grassroots NC executive director Paul Valone says the rules could be revived and 2A advocates shouldn’t take a victory lap just yet.
Earlier this week more than 150 instructors and 2A supporters turned out for a commission meeting in Raleigh, North Carolina to object to the new rules, which, as drafted, would have required them to provide the state with 30 days’ notice before any concealed carry course could take place, as well as keeping a list of all attendees for up to two years afterwards; information that would have to be handed over to the state during the course of any investigation into the instructor.
The commission attempted to mollify instructors by suggesting that the 30-day notice could be replaced with a notification 10 days before a class is held; a move Valone derided as too little, too late. As for today’s decision to kick the can down the road until November, Valone says it’s still unclear whether the commission will try to re-work the rules in response to the outpouring of opposition, or whether the commission will use the delay to try to lull Second Amendment advocates into complacency.
If the commission members are hoping that instructors and 2A advocates are going to simply forget about this in the coming months, they’re sorely mistaken. Instead, Valone tells Bearing Arms that Grassroots NC will be using the time to “turn up the heat” on the commission and Attorney General Josh Stein, who oversees the commission in his role as the state’s chief law enforcement officer.
While the commission maintains that the new regulations are necessary to help investigate allegations of wrongdoing on the part of instructors, Valone says the agency has only been able to point to four alleged issues out of hundreds of thousands of concealed carry course certifications, arguing that the proposed rules are instead Stein’s attempt to ape Joe Biden’s executive branch gun control actions; using administrative agencies to impose new restrictions on lawful gun owners when the legislature won’t go along.
In this case, Valone believes that the commission’s proposal would have a chilling effect on concealed carry throughout the state; burdening instructors with needless paperwork requirements and imposing conditions that would make it impossible for them to conduct classes on short notice, leading some trainers to simply give up offering instruction because it’s no longer financially viable or legally tenable. Mandating instructors keep a list of all class attendees, on the other hand, poses a threat to gun owner privacy, especially since, as Valone points out, the state already maintains a list of current concealed carry holders. Why does the state need access to the names of all those who’ve merely attended a particular carry course? The commission maintains it would help investigators find witnesses when allegations of wrong doing are presented, but Valone and many instructors worry that it would also lead to a back-door registry of gun owners around the state.
While today’s news may not be reason enough to pop open a bottle of champagne, I’d say it’s at least worth cracking open a cold bottle of Cheerwine to celebrate before getting back to work on strengthening and securing the Second Amendment rights of North Carolinians. Congratulations and a big thank you to all those who attended this week’s meeting in Raleigh; you clearly had an impact, and your engagement is a great example for 2A advocates to follow no matter what state they call home.