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N.C. House OKs guns on campuses over objections from administrators

RALEIGH Despite the objections of university administrators, the N.C. House Tuesday passed a bill that would allow concealed-carry weapons on college campuses.

The Republican-controlled House passed the bill 78-42, largely along partisan lines, after using parliamentary procedures to deny debate on several Democratic amendments.

The bill would expand places where concealed permit holders could carry guns and increase penalties for crimes committed with guns.

Rep. Jacqueline Schaffer, a Charlotte Republican and a co-sponsor, called it “a good and balanced bill.” Supporters argued that it could prevent events such as the 2007 shootings at Virginia Tech.

The provision of the bill that has drawn the most attention would allow concealed-carry holders to have guns on campus as long as the weapon is in a locked compartment.

Some find that provision problematic.

“I don’t believe having everybody return to their car to get their weapon is a sensible solution to an armed shooter on campus,” UNC Charlotte Chancellor Philip Dubois told the Observer. “Frankly I don’t think that there are many parents who think that’s a sensible solution, either.”

UNC System President Tom Ross and other chancellors, as well as campus police chiefs, also have opposed the bill. Dubois said they’ll continue fighting it as it moves to the Senate and, if it’s passed there, to Gov. Pat McCrory.

Though the bill tentatively passed Monday night, Tuesday’s debate lasted around an hour. As they did the night before, Republicans turned back efforts to change the bill. They tabled seven amendments without debating them. All but one amendment came from Democrats.

Among other things, the amendments would have restricted the size of ammunition magazines, made it harder for minors to get firearms, and required universal background checks. One would have allowed colleges, like bars and restaurants, to ban weapons by simply posting a notice prohibiting the carrying of handguns.

Democrats scolded Republicans for tabling the amendments.

“We’ve seen a sad evening and a sad day in our session,” said Rep. Paul Luebke, a Durham Democrat. “What we’ve seen last night and this afternoon is not democracy at work. … I would simply say it’s wrong.”

“Do you really believe there are no guns on university campuses?” asked Republican Rep. Craig Horn of Union County.

“There are, but they’re in violation of the law,” Luebke said.

Supporters invoked other mass shootings. Rep. Jeffrey Collins, a Rocky Mount Republican, said if more people had weapons at the Aurora, Colo., movie theater last year, “probably fewer people would have died.”

Dubois said he’s not convinced allowing more guns on campus would prevent such tragedies.

“Who knows if there’s any credence to that argument?” he said. “I certainly don’t accept it.”

Morrill: 704-358-5059
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