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Democrats File Bill To Restrain Firearms In NC With Little Chance Of Passage

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Democratic lawmakers want to make it legal in North Carolina for a judge to temporarily take away guns from anyone found to be an imminent threat to themselves or others. But it doesn’t look likely that the bill will pass.

House Bill 976 was filed Monday by Democratic state Rep. Marcia Morey, who represents Durham. By Tuesday afternoon, the bill was sent to the rules committee by Republican House Speaker Tim Moore. The rules committee is where lawmakers say bills essentially go to die.

The bill was sponsored by a coalition of Democratic representatives in the General Assembly, including Representative Rodney Moore who represents Mecklenburg County. They are urging Republicans to support the legislation that would allow a district court judge to issue an “extreme risk protection order.” According to Morey, the legislation outlines a procedure that would give judges a “tool similar to a domestic violence restraining order.” Morey said the proposed process would get weapons temporarily out of the hands of people showing signs of dangerous behavior quickly.

If the restraining order is granted, the judge would order law enforcement to temporarily remove any weapons. A hearing would then be scheduled within 10 business days to discuss if weapons should be removed from that person for a full year.

Credit North Carolina General Assembly
Rep. Marcia Morey

Morey announced the proposal less than a week after the February shooting at a high school in Parkland, Florida, that killed 17 people. She filed the bill days after the most recent shooting at Santa Fe High School in Texas that killed 10 people.

According to Morey, the legislation, if enacted, could help prevent future schools shootings by putting enforcement power behind the “see something, say something” message given to students. Morey said the gun violence restraining order would give people the ability to actually “do something” if they suspect someone they know of potential committing gun violence.

“It’s not taking any gun rights away,” Morey said in a February statement. “It’s trying to protect our citizens.”

Similar measures have been adopted by other states – including Connecticut, California and Washington.

According to the News & Observer in Raleigh, Morey remained optimistic even though the bill was referred to the rules committee.

“There are some bills sent to rules and they’ve come out,” Morey said in a news conference.

Moore did not respond to requests for comment on Wednesday.

Moore created a school safety committee in February, immediately following the Parkland shooting. The committee released a list of school safety recommendations last week that include budget proposals aimed at improving mental health resources and addressing physical safety issues in schools.