ROCKINGHAM — A bill making its way through the N.C. General Assembly would allow children under 12 to use BB guns without a parent or guardian present in neighboring Anson County.
As the law is currently written, BB guns, air pistols and air rifles are considered “dangerous firearms” in 17 counties, including Anson and Stanly. Children under age 12 are prohibited from possessing one without adult supervision in those counties. Richmond is one of 83 counties without such a ban on the books.
House Bill 1250 would remove Anson, Stanly, Surry, Harnett and Cleveland counties from that list. Rep. Justin Burr, a Republican representing Stanly and Montgomery counties, is one of the bill’s co-sponsors.
Sen. Gene McLaurin, D-Richmond, who also represents portions of Anson, Stanly, Rowan and Scotland counties, said he was reluctant to comment on the bill before researching it and speaking with community members and law enforcement.
He added that the bill, currently in a Senate judiciary committee, could undergo changes before reaching the Senate floor.
“Safety is something that has to be taken into consideration,” he said, calling it a “top priority.”
“Children should have adult supervision if they’re using a firearm,” he said.
McLaurin said he would be in favor of a statewide bill defining what should be considered a “dangerous weapon” for all of North Carolina instead of leaving in place a patchwork of definitions in different counties.
“One would be hard-pressed to call a BB gun a ‘dangerous weapon,’” said Paul Valone, president of Grass Roots North Carolina.
Valone said Grass Roots North Carolina supports the bill, although the Second Amendment watchdog group hasn’t done much with it.
“I fail to see why this legislation should be controversial,” he said, “unless the government wants to play nanny government.”
Valone said it should be up to parents — not government — to decide whether or not their children can own and use BB guns and air guns.
“I don’t want the government telling me what I can or can’t do with my children,” he said.
Valone said he started his children off with BB guns, then graduated them to air rifles and .22-caliber firearms. He said he taught them gun safety and didn’t give them unrestricted access until they were older.
Valone said his children, now adults ages 24 and 21, have each earned a concealed handgun permit.
“It seems to have worked well for them,” he said.
Reach reporter William R. Toler at 910-997-3111, ext. 16.