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Advocates, critics weigh in on gun bill introduced by North Carolina GOP

By Andrew James

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    ASHEVILLE, North Carolina (WLOS) — North Carolina Republicans introduced several bills Tuesday they say will protect gun rights. During a committee meeting, the three bills were consolidated into one.

Senate Bill 41 reads, in part, “An act to authorize concealed carry permit holders to carry firearms on certain school property at certain times and to authorize concealed carry for certain law enforcement facility employees, to repeal pistol purchase permits, and to launch a statewide firearm safe storage awareness initiative.”

“If we repeal this, background checks will now be done at the time and point of sale with federally licensed dealers,” said Paul Valone, President of Grass Roots North Carolina.

Valone supports the legislation, while Senator Julie Mayfield of Buncombe County said pistol purchase permits are an extra layer of protection for the community.

“My worry would very much be that people who should not have firearms will get firearms, and that puts, might put women and children in our communities at risk,” she said. “If this is someone who’s been convicted of domestic violence and they’re not supposed to have a firearm and now they do.”

“The fact is the North Carolina Sheriff’s Association, in the last session, signed off on repealing it because, quite frankly, we’ve improved our reporting of mental health records to the background check system, and they now consider the process to be in their own words, duplicative,” Valone said.

Senate Bill 41 would also allow handguns to be carried at a place of worship that is also educational property under certain circumstances. The bill applies to churches that also operate a school on property not owned by a local board of education or county commission.

The bill also specifies that a handgun could be carried outside of school operating hours, which includes extracurricular activities. Grass Roots North Carolina said the bill has the support of numerous religious leaders.

“They support this because, quite frankly, there have been a number of cases where armed parishioners have stopped violent sociopaths from committing mass murder,” Valone said.

“We ought to be making our community safer, and firearms more regulated, less available, and in fewer places in order to keep our communities safe,” Mayfield said.

Mayfield told News 13 she plans to introduce a suite of gun regulations in the General Assembly in the next few weeks, including a red flag law.

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