Current Date: Tue, 11 Mar 2014 16:34:18 -0400
Republican state legislators have signaled that gun-related measures might not be a top priority this year — but that hasn’t stopped lawmakers from introducing a slew of proposals.
Less than a week into the 2013 session — and with the Newtown shooting still fresh on the nation’s mind — seven gun-related bills have been filed at the N.C. General Assembly, including one, Senate Bill 27, that would permit guns in the state’s schools.
That bill would allow school volunteers, designated as “safety marshals,” to carry firearms on school property.
Schools would be able to opt out of having safety marshals, said Sen. Stan Bingham, R-Davidson, the bill’s primary sponsor.
Concealed handguns would not be allowed on school property, he said.
“You can take a two-hour course or three and get a concealed carry permit,” Bingham said. “Some of these people are not very well-trained.”
The N.C. Criminal Justice Education and Training Standards Commission would create a training program for prospective volunteers, according to the bill.
The regimen would include a minimum level of firearms training with a focus on crisis situations.
But not all legislators are confident that more guns in schools is the solution.Sen. Ellie Kinnaird, D-Orange, said volunteers with guns could be a liability.
“What happens if they are in a crossfire and it turns out that the volunteer shoots the child?” she said.
But Paul Valone, president of the pro-gun activist group Grass Roots North Carolina, said he does not think the bill goes far enough.
“This is very similar to some of the stuff that we have proposed, albeit a little more limited than what we have in mind,” he said. “Having said that, we would prefer to see the expansion of concealed carry to education.”
Advocates of gun restrictions disagree.
“I think it’s ridiculous,” said Gail Neely, executive director of North Carolinians Against Gun Violence. “I think it puts our children in danger and puts them into a militarized zone, which is not conducive to an education.”
The legislation does not include logistics — such as where safety marshals would be posted, where guns would be stored or who would have access to them.
Bingham said the N.C. Criminal Justice Education and Training Standards Commission and local school boards would establish guidelines for safety marshals and schools to follow.
Following its first reading Monday night, the bill was referred to the Senate Rules Committee, where it could sit until the end of the session.
Another bill proposed by legislators would permit concealed carry holders to bring guns inside restaurants and eating establishments and prohibit the names of those permits holders from being available to the public.
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