Sunday, April 17, 2011

Bill Introduced In NC Senate To Protect Gun Rights During State Of Emergencies

Senators Doug Berger (D-Franklin) and Andrew Brock (R-Davie) have introduced S. 594 in the North Carolina Senate. The bill introduced on Thursday would allow the possession or transport of a weapon during a state of emergency. The bill would also prohibit the enactment of any directive, proclamation, or local ordinance that would the confiscation or seizure of legally owned and possessed firearms during any declared state of emergency. Finally, the bill would prohibit the imposition of "additional restrictions or prohibitions upon the possession, carrying, transportation, sale, purchase, storage, or use of otherwise lawfully possessed firearms, ammunition, or ammunition components."

This bill goes to the heart of the restrictions on firearms contained in NCGS § 14-288 which are now being challenged in U.S. District Court for the Eastern District of North Carolina in Bateman et v. Perdue et al.

In what is obviously unintended timeliness, Central North Carolina was hit by very severe storms today including tornadoes. These storms are responsible for the deaths of 17 across four states including at least seven in North Carolina. The Raleigh News and Observer is reporting that three people were killed in a mobile home park in Raleigh, another three were killed in Bladen County, and one person was killed in Cumberland County.

Gov. Bev Perdue has not yet declared a state of emergency. She is reported to be out of state on personal business. However, Wake and Cumberland counties have both declared states of emergency as has the City of Fayetteville. The power of municipal and county governments to declare states of emergency is found in NCGS § 14-288.12 through 14-288.14.

Please keep the people of central North Carolina in your thoughts and prayers. Tornadoes are a rare occurrence in North Carolina and we aren't prepared for them like residents of tornado alley with storm cellars and safe rooms. On a side note, a couple of well-known gun bloggers, Bob Owen (Confederate Yankee) and Sean Sorrentino (A NC Gun Blog) live in the Raleigh area.

UPDATE: The damage from the storm in terms of lives was much worse that I previously reported. The N&O is reporting 22 deaths from the tornadoes including 11 in Bertie County. Sean's personal report on the storm is in the comments below.

Governor Perdue declared a state of emergency due to the storm and it can be found here. Executive Order No. 87 enacts the state of emergency under powers granted to the Governor under Chapter 166A of the North Carolina General Statutes. Unlike, declarations enacted under Chapter 36A, Section 14, this does not prohibit the possession of firearms.

The text of S. 594 is embedded below.

NC SB 594v1


  1. I was pretty tense during the storms, but the worst of it missed us. I was listening to the Wake police, fire, and ems scanner, and they were not having a good time. I grew up with earthquakes, and I'm comfortable with them. Hurricanes announce themselves 3 days out, giving you plenty of chance to flee. Tornados suck.

    About the bill, passage of this bill will moot the SAF/GRNC lawsuit against the Governor. Do you think that this indicates that some people fear that we won't prevail? Or is this simply a practical application of the "bird in the hand" rule? A Supreme Court decision in our favor gets us a codified right to Bear Arms. Heller/McDonald got us the Keep part. But a ruling against us would be a mess.

  2. @Sean: I'm really happy to hear that you got thru the storms OK.

    Grass Roots NC has tried to get such a bill passed for a few years now. I think the lawsuit was an effort to get a win on the issue by a different means. I do agree that it would moot the Bateman case.

    With Republican control of the General Assembly along with the grief that Perdue caught when she declared states of emergency under 14-288 (as opposed to Chapter 166A of NCGS), I think it could pass this time. I don't think it was proposed out of fear of a negative outcome in the Bateman case. More like a belt and suspenders sort of thing.