Earlier this week, Governor Pat McCrory signed House Bill 317 into law at the North Carolina National Guard’s Joint Force Headquarters in Raleigh. The bipartisan legislation, which passed the General Assembly unanimously, authorizes our state’s Adjutant General (currently Major General Gregory A. Lusk) to designate members of the North Carolina National Guard to carry concealed weapons while on duty in state buildings, including recruiting offices and armories.
“We must fulfill our obligation to protect those who protect us,” said Governor McCrory at the bill signing ceremony. “This law will give the National Guard the tools they need to keep themselves, and the public, safe.”
The North Carolina National Guard is an all-volunteer force of 12,000 soldiers and airmen who provide properly trained and equipped units for prompt mobilization for war, domestic emergencies, and other special situations. The Guard serves in both federal and state capacities and may be called up by the either the president or the Governor.
“This provides an additional deterrent to would-be assailants so high visibility service members in uniform are no longer perceived as unarmed,” said Representative Chris Whitmire, the primary sponsor of the bill and a combat veteran himself.
The new law also creates a new civil claim to permit any person whose property or person is injured by a terrorist to bring a civil action and, if successful, to recover three times his or her actual damages or $50,000, whichever is greater (together with court costs and attorney’s fees) for relief of damages sustained as the result of terrorist acts.
“Terrorist” is defined as a person who commits an “act of terror” or who in support of or in conspiracy with others to commit an act of terror. An “act of terror” is defined as an activity having all of the following characteristics:
- Involves violent acts or acts dangerous to human life that violate State or federal law;
- Appears intended to intimidate or coerce a civilian population, to influence government policy by intimidation or coercion, or to affect government conduct by mass destruction, assassination, or kidnapping; and
- Occurs primarily within this State.
“Inspiration for this bill came from a 2009 attack on military members at a recruiting station by a radicalized Islamist in Little Rock, Arkansas that left Army Private Andy Long dead and another service member wounded,” continued Representative Whitmire. “HB 371’s purpose, coupled with the July 16th radical Islamic terrorist attacks at a military recruiting station and a naval operations support center in Chattanooga, TN, made its enactment increasing urgent and pertinent to today’s domestic threat environment.”
Representative Whitmire urges folks to watch “Losing Our Sons,” a 2012 documentary about the Arkansas shootings that first inspired the new law. To watch the entire movie in HD, click here.
Representative Chris Whitmire is a United States Air Force Reserve Colonel with over 28 years of military service. He represents parts of Henderson, Transylvania, and Polk Counties in the North Carolina General Assembly. UNC-TV’s Kelly McCullen spoke with Representative Whitmire about House Bill 317 earlier this year on Legislative Week in Review.