UPDATE: NC Senate passes gun expansion, new safeguards - WECT TV6-WECT.com:News, weather & sports Wilmington, NC

UPDATE: NC Senate passes gun expansion, new safeguards

The state Senate gave tentative approval that expands where concealed carry permit holders can bring weapons The state Senate gave tentative approval that expands where concealed carry permit holders can bring weapons

RALEIGH, NC (WECT/AP) - A measure adding more places people can carry or store concealed firearms in North Carolina and repealing a requirement to get a license to buy a handgun has passed the North Carolina Senate.
The Senate approved a bill Thursday that also adds new safeguards and toughens penalties. The House already passed a less expansive bill.
The state attorney general says the repeal of the license requirement takes away a valuable part of the screening process. Republicans argue it's a dated law.
Democrats mostly opposed the bill, saying it oversteps popular opinion and encourages more gun violence. Republicans say the law targets illegal gun use while promoting the Second Amendment for well-trained and law-abiding owners.
The House will now have to approve the Senate's changes or negotiate to settle differences

A Senate committee expanded the House bill that opens new areas for concealed-permit holders to carry or store weapons in the state. The Senate Judiciary Committee endorsed a bill Tuesday that allows any permit holder to store a weapon in a locked car at any public school or university. The House version applies only to public universities.

The Senate's changes also allow permit holders to carry weapons at parades and funeral processions. Both bills would allow permit holders to carry weapons at restaurants.

University of North Carolina police chiefs and some senators questioned the wisdom of expanding guns to new areas. Supporters of the bill say concealed-carry holders are the most responsible gun owners.

Police chiefs of 17 UNC system universities issued a statement Monday showing their opposition to HB937, which passed the state House in May on a 78-42 vote.

Click here to read the full text of the bill, proposed amendments and committee reports. 

The following is the statement released by the group of police chiefs:

Opinion Statement – House Bill 937


Chief Gunther Doerr, Appalachian State University Police

Acting Chief Jason Sugg, East Carolina University Police

Interim Chief John Manley, Elizabeth City State University Police

Chief Robert Hassell, Fayetteville State University Police

Chief Glenn Newell, North Carolina A&T State University Police

Chief Tim Bellamy, North Carolina Central University Police

Chief Jack Moorman, North Carolina State University Police

Chief Eric Boyce, University of North Carolina at Asheville Police

Chief Jeff McCracken, University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill Police

Chief Jeff Baker, University of North Carolina at Charlotte Police

Chief Jamie Herring, University of North Carolina at Greensboro Police

Chief McDuffie Cummings, University of North Carolina at Pembroke Police

Chief David Donaldson, University of North Carolina at Wilmington Police

Chief Deb Cheesebro, University of North Carolina School of the Arts Police

Chief Earnest Hudson, Western Carolina University Police

Chief Pat Norris, Winston-Salem State University Police

Security Director Rick Hess, North Carolina School of Science and Mathematics

Chief Emily West, North Carolina Arboretum Police

Associate Vice President for Campus Safety and Emergency Operations Brent Herron, UNC General Administration

The police chiefs of the 17 UNC campuses oppose the provision of House Bill 937 that would allow handguns on our campuses.  We believe passage of this bill would increase the risk to the safety of our students, faculty, staff, and visitors.

Studies show that university campuses are consistently safer and experience significantly less crime than surrounding communities.

Some of our universities have middle schools and high schools on their campuses, and many of our universities host summer youth camps. This bill would allow concealed-weapon permit holders to bring their handguns onto these venues.

According to HB 937, private colleges and universities would have the authority to decide whether or not they allowed handguns on their campuses.  This bill would have a disparate impact on public colleges and universities, as we would not have the same discretion and authority that private colleges do.  Currently 45 states either ban guns on campuses or allow universities the discretion to choose whether or not to ban guns. 

In the event of a campus emergency, it is possible that concealed-carry permit holders may feel empowered to retrieve their handguns, thereby complicating and potentially hindering law enforcement response on a crowded campus.

The potential risk to those on campus far outweighs the convenience to concealed-carry permit holders. We encourage the General Assembly to remove the provision from HB 937 that would allow guns on university campuses.

Copyright 2013 WECT. Material from the Associated Press was used in this report.

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