Reps. Warren, Sasser supporting a number of gun-related measures
Published 12:00 am Sunday, March 28, 2021
By Natalie Anderson
SALISBURY — Reps. Harry Warren and Wayne Sasser have each signed on to support more than 70 bills in the House, and together they’re supporting a number of gun-related measures that have made their way to the Senate.
Warren, a Republican representing Rowan County, began working on gun-related legislation early in the session, leading House Bill 48, which allows emergency medical services personnel after completing specialized training to carry a concealed weapon when they’re working with a SWAT team in dangerous situations. That measure passed the House on March 10 by a vote of 79-41, with 10 Democrats in support.
Warren said the bill arose from concern about self-defense in such situations. He told the Post opposition is expected because hearing the word “gun” can “invoke a response in some people that is totally irrelevant to the conversation.”
Rep. Carolyn Logan, a Democrat representing Mecklenburg County and a former officer with the North Carolina Highway Patrol, voiced her opposition during the bill’s debate on March 10, citing concern for a sidearm serving as a distraction from the focus of EMS personnel to save lives.
Warren clarified that the bill only permits concealed handguns as allowed by state law and would make the ability to concealed carry an option by exempting them from restrictions in the current law. He also said the bill doesn’t call for EMS personnel to perform SWAT operations.
Rep. Brian Turner, a Democrat from Buncombe County, voted in support of the bill. During debate, he spoke to an article published in Business Insider about what gear is carried by paramedics.
“Medics are noncombatants, but they are allowed to protect themselves or their patients, and they carry weapons for this purpose,” he said, adding that such precedent elsewhere and the opportunity to choose not to carry if they don’t wish to are factors for his supportive vote.
This same measure is included in H.B. 134, which is the House version of the “2nd Amendment Protection Act.” That bill includes a measure similar to a bill sponsored by Sen. Carl Ford, R-33, in the Senate that would allow for conceal carry on church properties with an affiliated school.
Warren said he signed on to support H.B. 134 to make his measure more likely to pass, but also because he agrees with other sections of H.B. 134. For example, one section outlines opportunities for a sheriff to waive additional firearms safety and training courses if conceal carry permits are renewed within a certain timeframe. This measure is also in H.B. 49 — another bill Warren is leading. It also passed the House on March 10 by a vote of 79-41, with the support of 10 Democrats.
Sasser, a Republican representing Rowan and Stanly counties, is also currently sponsoring H.B. 134.
“I support the Second Amendment,” Sasser told the Post. “These bills just allow people to protect themselves.”
Warren is currently the primary sponsor of 22 bills, and at least four others have made their way to the Senate. Among those is H.B. 62, a pre-emptive measure to mandate compliance with state and federal immigration laws, which passed along party lines on March 10, 67-51. Warren’s bill to include certain premises restrictions for those charged with sexually exploiting a minor, or H.B. 84, passed the House unanimously on March 17.
Unrelated to guns, Sasser and Warren have both signed on to H.B. 184, which requires the North Carolina Department of Transportation to compensate the owner of any land it obtains with the real value of said property.
Sasser is leading at least 10 health-related bills as the chair of the House Health committee, with four of them currently sitting in the Senate. Those bills range from improving the donor sign-on process at the DMV, to expanding access to tele-health in certain areas of medicine.
Sasser and Warren are both supporting H.B. 91, which passed the House unanimously on March 17. That bill establishes a licensure process for behavior analysts by creating a board with General Assembly-appointed and Governor-appointed members. Sasser said the state currently doesn’t have enough psychologists trained to treat children with autism, and that the intent of this bill is to lower some certification requirements and allow behavior analysts from out-of-state to temporarily practice in North Carolina.
“Just because we can’t get enough providers in North Carolina does not make it acceptable that the people that need the professional providers don’t have access to them,” Sasser said. “It’s all about the patient.”
The pandemic has forced lawmakers and the public to confront the issue of access to health care, Sasser said. Another bill Sasser is supporting that aims to increase health care access for patients is H.B. 224, which allows out-of-state occupational therapists to provide care to North Carolinians remotely. Sasser is currently supporting and working to file several other bills related to tele-health access.
Another bill in the Senate supported by Sasser is H.B. 161, which addresses the issue of removing abandoned vessels, like ships, in private and public waters across the state.
Contact reporter Natalie Anderson at 704-797-4246.