A North Carolina House debate Wednesday on a resolution backing constitutional gun rights prompted concerns from Democrats who argued that it criticized national leaders for proposing rules the resolution says would infringe on those rights.
The resolution backed by a 73-35 party-line vote doesn't have much force of law and will be sent to members of North Carolina's congressional delegation.
Resolution sponsor Rep. Michael Speciale, R-Craven, said the resolution's message is simple - the right to bear arms should not be infringed upon and any gun restrictions coming from Washington are unconstitutional.
"This resolution does not advocate anything," Speciale said during the 30-minute debate. "This says, 'don't infringe on our rights.'"
Democrats said they also supported the Second Amendment but took issue with language in the resolution, including words saying the president and vice president and members of Congress "have proposed adopting laws, regulations, or actions that would have the effect of infringing on the right of Americans to keep and bear arms."
President Barack Obama and Vice President Joe Biden have pushed unsuccessfully to date for stronger firearms laws in the wake of recent mass shootings, including one at a Connecticut school. The U.S. Senate voted against legislation that would have expanded background checks for firearm purchases to gun shows and online sales.
Rep. Rick Glazier, D-Cumberland, called the references to the leaders "gratuitous" and said legal precedent and other case law doesn't support the resolution that Washington isn't permitted to legislate about aspects of gun regulation.
"To pass a resolution that the federal government has no right to legislation in these areas at all I think would be a shock to all," he said.
Democrats also questioned Speciale about whether he believed banning "assault weapons" or automatic weapons was justified. Some Republican allies came to Speciale's defense.
"If you can't support this resolution, what can you support?" asked Rep. Dana Bumgardner, R-Gaston.