Bill to do away with handgun permits shoots through committee - WNCT

Bill to do away with handgun permits shoots through committee

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Tuesday, a state Senate committee added a new provision eliminating a permit for handguns. Tuesday, a state Senate committee added a new provision eliminating a permit for handguns.
GREENVILLE, N.C. -

Legislation in Raleigh could make handgun permits a thing of the past but critics say it's a mistake and will only give a gun to an abuser and the mentally ill.

We previously reported House Bill 937 would allow concealed weapons on public campuses, that's still a possibility..

Tuesday, a state Senate committee added a new provision eliminating a permit for handguns, meaning sheriff's offices won't do background checks but that doesn't mean guns will be open to everyone.

Attorney General Roy Cooper immediately spoke out Tuesday in opposition saying, in part, "Eliminating permit background checks means more criminals, domestic abusers and the dangerous mentally ill can legally buy handguns."

Gun shop manager Colt Page disagrees.

"We would fall back to the FBI NICS background check which is actually what we'd do for law enforcement," said Page.

Page says gun shop managers would still use the National Instant Criminal background check or "NICs". A database officials with the North Carolina Sheriffs' Association say isn't thorough enough.

"The NICs check, checks a limited amount of information but it's not as comprehensive as what's allowed under the current law," said Eddie Caldwell, Exec. Vice President of the North Carolina Sheriffs' Association.

Caldwell says that means if someone was recently charged by deputies for threats or restraining orders, the NICS system wouldn't know because it only tracks convictions.

The senate committee also expanded the provision allowing concealed guns on college campus to all educational property including private schools, parades, funerals and greenways unless otherwise prohibited.

The bill could be voted on as early as this week.

---Previous Story---

A final vote on a controversial gun bill passed the North Carolina House Tuesday.  
     
The measure would allow a person with a concealed weapons permit to store a gun in a locker or locked car on a college campus. It would also allow permit holders to arm themselves in restaurants that serve alcohol.
     
The Republican-backed bill has been endorsed by gun rights group, but opposed by university leaders and Democrats.  
     
Just last week, ECU chancellor Steve Ballard spoke out against the bill, saying it has the potential to create danger to faculty, staff, students and visitors.

The bill now goes on to the Senate
     
--- Previous Story ---

Friday, East Carolina University Chancellor Steve Ballard weighed in on a gun rights bill making its way through our state legislature. The bill would allow people to bring a gun on a college campus.

In a statement, Ballard expressed his concern about House Bill 937:

"A bill moving through the N.C. General Assembly could have a direct and negative impact to the safety of our campus. I feel the need to state publicly my opposition to certain provisions included in House Bill 937 that would allow concealed-carry permit holders to keep their weapons in locked vehicles on college campuses.

Supporters of this bill say it will make our campuses safer. I don't believe that to be true. In fact, it has the potential to create dangerous situations for our faculty, staff, students and visitors. For example, if an incident occurs on our campus, law enforcement arriving on the scene must be able to quickly distinguish suspects from bystanders. Allowing weapons on campus could hamper their ability to make split-second decisions while assessing the situation. The consequences could be tragic.

It is our obligation to provide a safe environment at ECU. And I believe the best approach is by relying on the expertise of our accredited police department. I share the concerns expressed by President Tom Ross, my fellow chancellors, and our campus police officers that this proposed change would create increased risk on our campuses. I encourage the General Assembly to reconsider the provision allowing weapons onto our campus."

Supporters argue that the bill is meant to protect law-abiding citizens.

One of the bill's sponsors, Rep. Justin Burr of Stanly County told 9 On Your Side's Katie Banks earlier this week, "If you have a concealed carry permit, that you should be able to keep that weapon in your vehicle to protect yourself in that parking lot and to protect yourself when you're traveling to and from a home."

The bill has already passed a House Committee. It was due for a vote Tuesday, but was pulled while lawmakers determine whether or not the bill's measures would create any additional cost to the state.

--- Original Story ---

A gun rights bill making its way through our state legislature would allow people to bring a gun on a college campus.

It's just one of 20 bills nationwide lawmakers have introduced this session that would allow students, visitors or faculty members to have guns on college campuses.

But on Monday, UNC System President Tom Ross released a statement saying, "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…"

Ross added, "The potential for tragedy far outweighs any potential benefit or convenience to concealed-carry permit holders.  We encourage the General Assembly to remove the provision that would allow guns to be brought onto UNC and other college and university campuses."   

Lt. Chris Sutton of the ECU Police Department says situations like 2011's "Gunbrella Man" scare – where people mistook an umbrella for a gun - and put the campus on lock down for hours, is an example of what could escalate if people were allowed to have guns on campus.

"We train to stop the threat," Sutton says. "And if we encounter individuals where we see somebody with a gun when we're responding to deal with somebody with a gun, then it can make that situation much more intense."

That's why Sutton is against House Bill 937, which would let concealed weapons permit holders lock their handguns in their cars when they park on college campuses.

"I feel like leaving it inside a vehicle makes it susceptible to a theft situation and then that handgun could again be used on innocent lives," Sutton says.

He explains car-break-ins are one of the highest-reported crimes on ECU's campus.

But bill sponsors argue someone can break into your car anywhere and say the bill is meant to protect law-abiding citizens.

"If you have a concealed carry permit, that you should be able to keep that weapon in your vehicle to protect yourself in that parking lot and to protect yourself when you're traveling to and from a home," says Rep. Justin Burr of Stanly County.

Some ECU students we talked with Tuesday agree with Burr.

"I think it's a great idea just in case any event actually does happen like [Gunbrella Man], we can protect ourselves," Johnny Mitchell, an ECU sophomore, says.

Earle Aube, an ECU junior, adds, "If they're in their car and no one can see it, then what difference is going to make whether you're at the grocery store, or a restaurant, or a college campus?"

However, other students believe the bill puts everyone on campus in danger.

"I know personally it would make me nervous and I wouldn't feel as safe knowing that anybody can get their hands on somebody else's gun," ECU junior Kai Chatman says.

Other parts of this bill would let people bring their concealed guns into bars and restaurants that serve alcohol, increase penalties for gun-related crimes and ensure people with mental health conditions are reported to a nation-wide system for background checks.

The bill passed a House Committee last week and was supposed to go to the House floor Tuesday for a vote, but was pulled off the calendar for now so lawmakers could find out if the bill's measures would create any additional cost to the state.

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