Update – A Spy, Drug Dealers, Cronies, Hemp and the NCGA

You may remember the legislation that started out as a license plate bill for retired registers of deeds in March of 2015, but mysteriously became the “Hemp Bill” on September 28, 2015 and was ratified the next day. All this, just two days before the end of last year’s marathon legislative session. Civitas looked at the way the bill was introduced and the characters behind the resulting legislation in an article titled, A Spy, Drug Dealers, Cronies, Hemp and the NCGA.

While the rushed-through legislation made industrial hemp production legal in North Carolina four months ago, this News and Observer article suggests that they haven’t raised the $200,000 in private funds needed to support the operations of the Commission. The N&O article implied that the commission will be appointed after the money is raised. This leaves us to wonder; just who is responsible for raising the money? Here is how the legislation reads:

  • 106-568.54. Limitations. The Commission shall not meet or undertake any of its powers and duties under this Article until it has obtained funding from sources other than State funds of at least two hundred thousand dollars ($200,000) to support operations of the Commission. Funding from non-State sources for the Commission’s activities may be returned to the donor or funder if not spent or.

While A Spy, Drug Dealers, Cronies, Hemp and the NCGA did not weigh in on the merits of the bill, we did raise questions as to the process and the cast of characters that played such a major role including Bruce Perlowin, a notorious drug dealer, his wife – a KGB spy, Republican leadership, consultants and lobbyists – all with major stakes in the success of the resulting legislation.

New NC Gun Law Explained

Last night, HB 937, “An Act to Amend State Firearm Laws,” passed in both houses of the General Assembly. The bill is headed to the governor, where it will be signed in to law. Here is a quick breakdown of the provisions included in the law.

The Good:

  • Concealed carriers may now leave their weapons in a locked vehicle on a college campus. In 2002, an active shooter at a Tennessee law school was halted by two concealed carry permit holders who retrieved their handguns from their cars when they heard gunfire.
  • Increased penalties for violators. Felons who use or brandish a firearm can have added years tacked on their sentence – up to 72 months. The law also creates a status of “armed habitual offender” that can be applied to felons who commit more than one firearm-related felony.
  • Enhanced enforcement of existing laws. Involuntary commitment (institutionalization) and other legal findings of mental incapacity are now reported to NICS, the national criminal background check used for firearms purchases. This allows gun stores to identify mentally ill people who attempt to obtain weapons.
  • Concealed carriers may now carry at funerals, parades, establishments that sell alcohol, and establishments that charge admission. The last two are a particular improvement over existing laws.
  • Handgun purchase permits and concealed carry permits are no longer public records. Earlier this year, a New York newspaper published a database of concealed carry holders. North Carolina has passed legislation to prevent a similar thing from happening in the Tar Heel State.
  • Hunters can now use suppressors. Suppressors reduce recoil slightly and minimize the potential for hearing loss.

The Bad:

  • The handgun purchase permit system is still in place. We wrote about this previously – NC is one of only 12 states that require citizens to have a permit to purchase a handgun. Sheriffs will retain control over the purchase permit system, but under the new law they must give a written explanation if a purchase permit is denied.

The Verdict:

All told, this is a victory for North Carolina gun owners and for gun rights. HB 937 is not perfect, but it is a huge step in the right direction.

Civil Disobedience Lite

The way the news reports it, you would think that the participants in “Moral Monday” were moral crusaders. And indeed, the participants and organizers of “Moral Monday” certainly encourage that perception. Writing in the Guardian, William Barber compared his merry band of lawbreakers – disproportionately comprised of old, white liberals – to Mahatma Ghandi and Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. Arrested UNC history professor Jacquelyn Dowd Hall agreed: “There are many analogies to what happened during the Civil Rights movement.” And in one particularly nauseating account, Jedediah Purdy compares himself to Henry David Thoreau, a “militant watchman of his own authority.”

These comparisons do great violence to the memories of those activists. Ghandi marched 240 miles on footto protest British policies in India. Martin Luther King faced down fire hoses, bombings, and police dogs in Birmingham. Henry David Thoreau was furious when friends bailed him out of jail, believing that prison time was a crucial part of triggering reform.

And then you have this:

“They got us processed in about two hours,” [NC NAACP Vice President Carolyn] Coleman said Thursday. “Which is good, because I had a church meeting to get to in Greensboro.”

And this:

“[Duke professor William] Chafe referred to his short incarceration as a ‘great time’ that allowed the protesters to make new friendships and have wide-ranging conversations. Additionally, the protesters all sang together throughout their eight to 10-hour stays in prison.”

And this:

“When they  came to arrest me, I handed my big umbrella to one of the capitol policemen as if he were my valet…In the photos, I guess I look enough like a prisoner if you know the context, but I could also be a colonial administrator strolling, hands clasped behind his back, flanked by his batmen.”

At a certain point, you have to wonder what kind of fantasy world these people live in to compare themselves to King, Thoreau, and Ghandi. The truth is that Moral Monday protesters are undercutting the democratic process, costing taxpayers a boatload of money, and clogging an already overloaded criminal justice system.

Hit By Lightning, Attacked By Bear, Legislation Pending

Well, not exactly, but you have to wonder if the legislature might be eager to help this “victim” of lightning and mauling.  The legislature went full till after video poker, errr, sweepstakes machines because the machines literally attack poor people in the streets and in their homes.  Without stopping to solve the budget woes, they went forcefully after the machines led by the Sen. Josh Stein (D-Wake and former head of Self Help whose brother ran the Center For Responsible Lending which helped usher in the mortgage meltdown.)

So, I guess Stein and Co. might just have to pass some legislation against lightning or bears in some way.  I mean, this fella’ was just a victim and Stein should be concerned.  The difference is that you can really avoid sweepstakes machines, but Stein and the rest of the senate doesn’t think your smart enough to do so on your own.

“They represent gambling on a massive commercialized scale,” said Sen. Josh Stein

Hmm. . doesn’t he support the NC Educational Lottery?  Oh and Harrah’s Casino in Cherokee?  I think it is you Sen. Stein who also represents gambling on a massive commercialized scale with taxpayer dollars.