The North Carolina and Michigan state legislatures are both set to take up bills aimed at loosening laws regulating gun owners, an intensifying trend across the country where Republicans control the vast majority of state governments.
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In North Carolina, a bill is up for a vote this week that would expand rights for Second Amendment advocates in a variety of ways, including no longer requiring citizens to obtain concealed carry permits and lowering the age limit to carry a concealed weapon from 21 to 18. The bill, known as House Bill 746, would also eliminate the need for gun safety courses as a prerequisite to carry a concealed firearm. Unlike bills passed in some other states, firearms would not be permitted on the grounds of the State Capitol. It is already legal to openly carry a firearm in North Carolina.
The NRA supports the bill, saying in a statement, "this legislation would establish that carrying a concealed firearm without a permit is legal in North Carolina, just as carrying openly without a permit has always been."
However, numerous activist groups and lawmakers have voiced opposition.
“We are going to be living in an 'Old West' type of society,” North Carolina Democratic State Rep. Garland Pierce told FOX Business Tuesday. “I support people’s gun rights … [but this bill will result in] too many guns in the hands of too many folks, first of all, who have no training. I don’t think all of them will be responsible [especially] when you get down to 18 [year-olds].”
Meanwhile, in Michigan, a separate, but similar, piece of legislation is moving through the state legislature that both removes the need for gun owners to obtain a concealed carry permit and eliminates the training requirement. This bill has been approved by a House panel and will be up for a vote shortly in the Republican-controlled chamber.
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The trend toward loosening gun rights has spread across the nation, as a historically high number of state legislatures are controlled by Republicans. In April, Iowa approved a massive expansion of gun rights, which included granting citizens the right to defend themselves with force, even “deadly force,” in public if they feel threatened.
President Donald Trump continues to speak out for gun rights, taking a moment on Sunday to defend gun owners in the wake of the fatal London terror attacks Saturday night.
Do you notice we are not having a gun debate right now? That's because they used knives and a truck!— Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) June 4, 2017
On the other side of the aisle, however, lawmakers are urging caution against loosening restrictions too generously.
“We don’t want to create a panic attitude where everyone runs out and gets a gun … Everybody fears everybody right now,” Rep. Pierce said.