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UNC leaders speak about against gun bill in NC House

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CHAPEL HILL, N.C. -

Two Chapel Hill leaders are speaking out against a proposal in the North Carolina House that would allow individuals with concealed-carry permits to bring guns onto college campuses.

University of North Carolina system president Tom Ross expressed concerns in a lengthy statement about House Bill 937, which would amend various firearm laws. According to the bill, a person with a concealed carry handgun permit  could have a handgun in a locked compartment in a vehicle at a college or community college.

"We have an obligation to provide a safe environment for our students and employees, and every UNC campus has a trained police force charged with promoting the safety of all people who come onto our campuses," Ross said in a statement released Monday. " All UNC Chancellors and Chiefs of Police believe allowing guns on campus would increase the risk to public safety and hamper our ability to protect not only our students, staff ,and faculty, but also campus visitors, including parents, siblings of students, and summer camp participants.  

"Vehicle break-ins are one of the leading crimes on college campuses, and even guns brought lawfully onto campus, as contemplated by this bill, could fall into the wrong hands and result in serious injury or death."

Ross said the  potential for tragedy "far outweighs any potential benefit or convenience to concealed-carry permit holders."

Meanwhile, Chief Jeff B. McCracken, director of public safety at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill, said the bill would make "colleges and universities less safe."

"Even allowing weapons to be kept only in locked vehicles is not secure," McCracken said. "The thousands of vehicles parked at UNC-Chapel Hill are among the targets for break ins, and I'm concerned this legislation would increase that frequency. As a result, criminals would have access to more guns."

The bill has passed first reading, cleared committee, and is on the House calendar for Tuesday.

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