N.C. lawmakers consider loosening gun laws

The (Raleigh) News & ObserverMarch 4, 2011 

RALEIGH, N.C. — There could be more guns in parks, restaurants and workplaces under a pair of bills state legislators are considering.

Whether that's a good thing or a bad thing is something lawmakers have just begun to consider.

One bill would make it legal for people with concealed handgun permits to take their weapons into restaurants and parks. The other would allow gun owners to lock their weapons in their cars while they're at work. And a bill filed Thursday by Youngsville Republican Rep. Glen Bradley would exempt from all federal regulation any firearm, accessory and ammunition made and kept in North Carolina.

The proposals are among several bills introduced into the General Assembly this session that would expand the rights of gun owners. A House bill is under consideration that would allow legislators and other elected officials who have concealed-carry permits to take their handguns with them anywhere in the state, except where prohibited by federal law. Earlier this week, the Senate approved a "castle doctrine" bill that would give additional legal protection to those who use deadly force against intruders threatening their homes, vehicles or businesses.

Additional legislation that some gun advocates would like to see introduced this session includes eliminating the requirement that county sheriffs issue concealed-carry permits after federal background checks are performed, and allowing concealed handguns on college campuses.

Grassroots North Carolina has pushed for a castle doctrine law for several years - taking credit for helping to defeat Lexington Democrat Rep. Hugh Holliman last year because the group blamed the former House majority leader for stifling a previous attempt. The organization also supports the bills allowing firearms in parks, restaurants and secured in cars at work.

Grassroots North Carolina isn't taking a position on the armed politicians bill, because it only applies to a select group rather than to everyone. But Paul Valone, president of the organization, is optimistic that all the gun bills will pass this session. "I think they have a good chance," Valone said.

Roxanne Kolar, executive director of North Carolinians Against Gun Violence, said her group is concerned that with the change in leadership in the General Assembly the state will follow a pro-gun momentum emerging elsewhere.

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