Since North Carolina Governor Beverly Perdue signed Executive Order 62, declaring a State of Emergency in the face of Hurricane Earl, a debate has ensued over whether N.C.G.S. 14-288.7, which restricts transportation of “dangerous weapons” – including firearms – applies to the many thousands of concealed handgun permit-holders, sport shooters and hunters who appear to be in violation of state law.
Both the office of the governor and the North Carolina Wildlife Resources Commission have issued proclamations that EO 62 does not restrict lawful gun owners and hunters. Unfortunately, both Governor Perdue and the WRC are not only wrong, but by all apearances, willfully wrong. And below you will find out why.
Perdue faces a monumental problem: To get FEMA aid in response to the hurricane, she must declare a State of Emergency. Yet G.S. 14-288.7 is quite clear that under a SoE, no one but law enforcement officers and the military, during commission of their duties, may transport firearms away from his or her “premises.”
Worse, the governor’s party, under the direction of House Majority Leader Hugh Holliman, had no less than two opportunities when the legislature was in session to rectify the problem. Both HB 257 and HB 2031 removed the restriction on carriage of firearms during a SoE. HB 2031, in fact, was introduced after the problem became known when King, NC banned guns and ammunition in response to an impending snowstorm.
Then there is the pending litigation over exactly this issue, Bateman et al v. Perdue et al, of which my organization, Grass Roots North Carolina is a plaintiff.
Unfortunately, instead of admitting the problem and vowing to resolve it, Gov. Perdue is conducting a disinformation campaign to get people to believe it doesn’t exist. And in replying to constituents, the governor’s office has begun applying what can only be described as “big lie theory” as they have begun to carefully misstate the contents of EO 62.
SAYS THE GOVERNOR’S OFFICE:
“…After checking with legal counsel, we are pleased to inform you that the current state of emergency was written in such a way that the rights of NC gun owners are not infringed upon. However, local authorities still have the authority to establish states of emergency within their jurisdictions that may impact your right to carry weapons.
“Dove season will open as scheduled on Sept. 4. The Commission’s general counsel has advised that there is no legal impediment to hunting during the current state of emergency.”
Says Grass Roots North Carolina’s Director of Legal Research, Ed Green:
“On Sept. 1, 2010, Governor Perdue issued Executive Order No. 62 declaring ‘that a state of emergency exists in the State due to the approach of Hurricane Earl.’ Nothing in EO 62 mentions gun owners or the possession of guns in any way. Nothing in EO 62 purports to suspend the operation of any
“NCGS § 14-288.7 clearly and unambiguously forbids the possession of any firearm off one's premises during any declared State of Emergency, with exceptions only for law enforcement and military in the course of their duties. Under NC law, whenever a State of Emergency is declared, no citizen
may possess any gun outside of their home.
“Even if EO 62 were worded (or amended) to expressly permit the possession of firearms, the governor has no constitutional or statutory authority to suspend the effect or enforcement of a valid NC criminal law. Once she declared a State of Emergency, Gov. Perdue legally disarmed all NC civilians outside their own homes, including the thousands of otherwise legally licensed hunters expected to take to the fields for the opening of Dove season at noon Saturday.”
SAYS THE GOVERNOR’S OFFICE:
“The EO only delegated the power and authority to the Secretary of Crime Control and Public Safety necessary to implement the State's Emergency Operation Plan. The EO was written in this way mindful of the current lawsuit related to GS. 14-288.7. Implementation of the State's Emergency Operation Plan does not require that G.S. 14-288.7 be enforced.”
From counsel Ed Green:
“EO 62 was NOT written mindful of Gura's lawsuit. The language delegating authority "for the purpose of implementing the State Emergency Operation Plan" is IDENTICAL to language in EO 7 (1/20/09), EO 27 (10/28/09), EO 30 (11/16/09), and EO 47 (1/30/10), all declaring states of emergency (mostly for snow). See http://www.governor09.nc.gov/NewsItems/ExecutiveOrderList.aspx”
Moreeover, EO 62 does not say merely that “the State’s Emergency Operation Plan” is being implemented, it says:
“EXECUTIVE ORDER NO.62
PROCLAMATION OF A STATE OF EMERGENCY
BY THE GOVERNOR OF THE STATE OF NORTH CAROLINA
DUE TO HURRICANE EARL”
Meanwhile, G.S. 14-288.7 says: “it is unlawful for any person to transport or possess off his own premises any dangerous weapon or substance in any area…[i]n which a declared state of emergency exists…”
BIG LIE THEORY IN PRACTICE
The most bald-faced lie told by the governor, however, is this:
“You have asked whether G.S. 14-288.7 applies to the state of emergency declared in Executive Order 62 due to Hurricane Earl. Executive Order 62 was issued pursuant to the Governor’s authority under the North Carolina Emergency Management Act, Chapter 166A of the General Statutes and not pursuant to her authority under Article 36A of Chapter 14 of the General Statutes. [Emphasis added]
“Executive Order 62 did not trigger the provisions of G.S. 14-288.7, and there was never any intention by the issuance of Executive Order 62 to restrict the transportation or possession of off-premises firearms. "
Now contrast that with Section 3 of EO 62, the declaration of State of Emergency, which clearly contains what they claim is not there:
“I delegate to Reuben F. Young, Secretary of Crime Control and Public Safety, or his designee, all power and authority granted to me and required of me by Article 1 of Chapter 166A of the General Statutes and Article 36A of Chapter 14 of the General Statutes for the purpose of implementing the State’s Emergency Operations Plan and to take such further action as is necessary to promote and secure the safety and protection of the populace in North Carolina.” [Emphasis added]
That would be the same Article 36 A, Chapter 14 which contains the definition of “state of emergency,” the definition of “dangerous weapon” to include firearms and, yes, G.S. 14-288.7, the ban on transporting dangerous weapons during states of emergency.
FROM THE ATTORNEY GENERAL:
But don’t take my word for it. Ask NC Attorney General Roy Cooper who, together with gun law expert John J. Aldridge III, wrote a 46-page tome entitled “North Carolina Firearms Laws,” in which they say:
“It is also a misdemeanor under North Carolina law for a person to transport or possess, off his or her own premises, a dangerous weapon in an area during a declared state of emergency, or in the vicinity of a riot. N.C. Gen. Stat. § 14-288.7 A concealed handgun permit does not allow a permittee to carry a weapon in these areas. N.C. Gen. Stat. § 14-415.11(c)”
THE HOLLIMAN / PERDUE GUN BAN
If the Holliman/Perdue gun ban contained in EO 62 continues to be in effect on Saturday, when North Carolina dove season opens, thousands of hunters will be guilty of a Class 1 misdemeanor, punishable by up to 120 days in jail. Short of rescinding EO 62, nothing Perdue or anyone else can do will change that.
It would be politically untenable for the state to prosecute any of these people, of course. But in living under the shadow of selective prosecution, North Carolina gun owners now exist at the convenience and on the good graces of Queen Beverly, who has taken your right to bear arms, and turned it into a privilege.