NC Lawmakers Adjourn Without Taking Action on Constitutional Carry

AP Photo/Rebecca Blackwell

Despite thousands of signatures in support of Constitutional Carry and a legislative supermajority in both chambers, North Carolina Republicans gaveled this year's session to a close on Thursday without taking any action on a permitless carry bill. 


In fact, the legislature didn't take much action at all this session. 

The North Carolina General Assembly wrapped up this year's chief work session Thursday after overriding Democratic Gov. Roy Cooper's vetoes, putting a constitutional amendment about citizens and voting on the November ballot and sending to Cooper's desk many additional bills.

But during its two months of work, the Republican-dominated legislature stumbled by failing to pass a comprehensive budget-adjustment measure for the next 12 months. Attempts at putting additional constitutional referendums before voters fell short. And bills on other contentious topics didn't get over the finish line.

"I wish we had been able to get more done. I think if we had gotten more done, we'd have a little more to talk about," Senate leader Phil Berger told reporters after his chamber passed an adjournment resolution. But, Berger added, "there was a lot of productive activity that took place."

It's infuriating to see Berger complain about not getting more done when he helped put the kibosh on a Constitutional Carry bill. Berger said last year that he didn't see a "need" to devote much time and attention to Second Amendment issues this session after Republicans repealed the state's permit-to-purchase law in 2023, but appeared to soften his position after 2A group Grassroots NC delivered petitions signed by thousands of gun owners to his office back in March


Berger told reporters, “Constitutional Carry is something that is worth talking about. We’ll talk with our members and see whether there is an appetite to move forward with it,” but despite his pledge there was no movement on House Bill 189 over the course of the session. Even as states like Louisiana and South Carolina adopted their own permitless carry laws, Republicans in North Carolina refused to act. 

When we last spoke to Grassroots NC head Paul Valone about the GOP's inaction, he posited that many lawmakers are simply afraid of the negative media reaction and what impact that might have in an election year. Since then, however, polls have shown Donald Trump leading Joe Biden by a comfortable margin in the state. It's down-ticket Republicans who are struggling to connect with voters. Trump leads Biden by nearly 7 points in North Carolina, according to the RealClearPolitics polling average, while Democrat gubernatorial candidate Josh Stein is essentially tied with Republican candidate Mark Robinson. 

I think it's a mistake for Republicans to try to play it safe by avoiding a hot-button issue like Constitutional Carry. They need to give the base a reason to turn out beyond "we're not Democrats", and right now it looks like they're not doing a great job of that. The good news is that the legislature is expected to return to Raleigh for a couple of short sessions in coming months, so there is still time to make Constitutional Carry a priority. So far Berger and House Speaker Tim Moore have tuned out the voices of gun owners urging them to take action, but if they want to keep that supermajority intact they need to get to work and use their numbers to make North Carolina the 30th Constitutional Carry state in the country before Election Day. 


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