May 132013


Sunday, May 12, 2013

When North Carolina Republicans — including two representing Pitt County — sought to pass legislation allowing concealed-carry permit holders to have guns on the state’s college campuses, they did not consult administrators at those schools. Nor did they ask law enforcement officials charged with keeping students, faculty and staff safe their thoughts on making such a dramatic change.

That is evident by the nearly unanimous opposition to the bill, which passed the House by a party-line vote this week, among those constituencies. Though permit-holders are statistically the most responsible gun owners, their voices — and those of the powerful gun lobby — should not have overwhelmed the vast majority of stakeholders who continue to believe this would be a dangerous mistake for North Carolina to make.

First-term Reps. Brian Brown and Susan Martin are among the many Republican cosponsors of a bill that would dramatically loosen state gun laws. It resurrects last year’s failed attempt to allow weapons in restaurants and bars, limits the ability of local governments to prohibit firearms on greenways and in parks, and would allow some gun owners to carry weapons on the campuses of public universities and community colleges.

The proposed changes come amid an emotional debate on the prominent role of guns in American society. Republicans in Washington successful blocked attempts to strengthen federal gun laws in response to the December shooting at Sandy Hook Elementary School, even though tougher background checks enjoy a 90 percent approval rating. Even in conservative states like this, senators supporting such measures — such as Democrat Kay Hagan — have enjoyed increased popular support.

Set aside the politics, however, and recognize that those closest to the issue — college administrators like East Carolina University Chancellor Steve Ballard, law enforcement and faculty — nearly unanimously oppose allowing guns on campus. Supporters claim that campus safety will be unaffected since guns must be locked in vehicles, but University of North Carolina system President Tom Ross notes that car break-ins are among the leading crimes at UNC schools.

And what of the worst case scenario of a campus shooter? Law enforcement says that adding more people with weapons will make a treacherous situation more complicated and potentially deadly.

Don’t tell that to Brown and Martin, however, since it does not match their agenda, nor that of the gun lobby. They claim protecting students is their priority, but officials charged with that very responsibility each day are being ignored in this debate. That is both irresponsible and dangerous.

via The Daily Reflector.


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