Corrections officers from North Carolina prisons could carry concealed firearms while off duty without a permit under a legislative proposal that seeks to help them protect themselves from a growing number of threats from prison gangs.
The state’s roughly 12,000 corrections officers would be exempt from the North Carolina’s conceal-carry law, according to a bill approved by a Senate committee on Tuesday morning. Lawmakers are responding to reports from state prisons officials, who say there has been an increase in threats from gang members claiming to know personal details of the lives of corrections officers and their families.
"This is one measure that we can take to ensure police officers can protect themselves and their families when they’re off duty," said Sen. Shirley Randleman (R-Wilkes), who sponsored the bill.
Officials at the state Department of Public Safety have been lobbying for legislative support to improve work conditions for prison corrections officers. Gov. Pat McCrory said in his State of the State address that an officer is assaulted in a state prison or jail roughly once every 11 hours. In his budget proposal, McCrory asked law makers to set aside money to raise pay for corrections officers, whose starting salary is $29,000.