State of emergency order makes criminals of concealed handgun permit-holders, sport shooters and hunters.
[Raleigh] Yesterday, North Carolina Governor Beverly Perdue signed Executive Order No. 62, declaring a State of Emergency in advance of Hurricane Earle. In doing so, Perdue suspended the right of state residents to use or carry firearms outside their premises.
At issue is N.C. General Statute 14-288.7, which prohibits transporting a “dangerous weapon” during a state of emergency:
§ 14 288.7. Transporting dangerous weapon or substance during emergency; possessing off premises; exceptions.
(a) Except as otherwise provided in this section, it is unlawful for any person to transport or possess off his own premises any dangerous weapon or substance in any area:
(1) In which a declared state of emergency exists; or
(2) Within the immediate vicinity of which a riot is occurring.
(b) This section does not apply to persons exempted from the provisions of G.S. 14 269 with respect to any activities lawfully engaged in while carrying out their duties.
(c) Any person who violates any provision of this section is guilty of a Class 1 misdemeanor. (1969, c. 869, s. 1; 1993, c. 539, s. 192; 1994, Ex. Sess., c. 24, s. 14(c).)
According to § 14 288.1 (10), a state of emergency exists “whenever, during times of public crisis, disaster, rioting, catastrophe, or similar public emergency, public safety authorities are unable to maintain public order or afford adequate protection for lives or property, or whenever the occurrence of any such condition is imminent.”
Violation of the order is a Class I misdemeanor, punishable by up to 120 days in jail. Those impacted include concealed handgun permit-holders, sport-shooters, and anyone else carrying a firearm outside their home or business. Critics note that dove-hunting season begins on Saturday (September 4), potentially making criminals of thousands of hunters.
NC DEMOCRATS REFUSE TO RECTIFY PROBLEM
In recent years, two North Carolina bills could have prevented infringement on individual rights under state of emergency laws. Under Section 3 of House Bill 257: “No Seizure of Lawful Firearms in Emergency,” sponsored by Rep. George Cleveland (R-Onslow) and three other legislators, lawfully possessed firearms and ammunition would have been exempted from the state of emergency law.
Despite support from the state’s primary gun group, Grass Roots North Carolina*, and others the bill died when it was denied a committee hearing by Democrat leadership, including Speaker Joe Hackney (D-Chatham, Moore, Orange) House Majority Leader Hugh Holliman (D-Davidson) and Judiciary Committee Chairman Representative Ronnie Sutton (D-Robeson).
The issue became more urgent in February, when the town of King declared a state of emergency in response to an impending snowstorm and posted the entire town against the sale and purchase of firearms and ammunition.
In response, GRNC worked with Rep. Mark Hilton (R-Catawba) to revamp the bill and introduce it again, with stronger language on the state of emergency issue, during the second year of the legislature’s two-year session as HB 2031. Referred to the House Judiciary I Committee, chaired by anti-gun Rep. Deborah Ross, that bill too died when Democrats denied it a hearing.
LAWSUIT PENDING ON STATE OF EMERGENCY LAW
Ironically, in June GRNC joined Michael Bateman, Virgil Green, Forrest Minges, Jr., and the Second Amendment Foundation in a lawsuit against the state’s emergency powers gun ban.
Named in the suit are North Carolina Gov. Beverly Perdue; Reuben Young, secretary of the Department of Crime Control and Public Safety; Stokes County and the City of King.
Filed in U.S. District Court for the Eastern District of North Carolina, the official title is Bateman et al v. Perdue et al, Case No. 5:10-cv-265. It contends that state statutes forbidding carrying of firearms and ammunition during declared states of emergency, as well as laws enabling government officials to prohibit purchase, sale and possession of firearms and ammunition are unconstitutional because they forbid the exercise of Second Amendment rights as affirmed by the Supreme Court ruling in McDonald v. Chicago.
Plaintiffs are represented by attorney Alan Gura, who won the recent McDonald v. Chicago Second Amendment case and the landmark D.C. v. Heller case preceding it. Local counsel includes Andrew Tripp and Kearns Davis of Brooks, Pierce, McLendon, Humphrey & Leonard, LLC.
After GRNC issued an alert to its members, word of the implications of Perdue's order spread on the Internet, including being featured on thetruthaboutguns.com. It is widely anticipated that the order will add impetus to the Bateman lawsuit.
*Author F. Paul Valone is president and a co-founder of Grass Roots North Carolina.