Gun club bill passed in tense vote

In a controversial vote Tuesday night, Student Congress passed by a one-vote margin a bill that will make it more difficult for the Tar Heel Rifle and Pistol Club to obtain funding for ammunition — a measure that members of the group call discriminatory.

The legislation, which passed 17-16, called for the number of present and voting members of Student Congress needed to approve funding requests for ammunition to be raised from a simple majority to three-fifths.

Congress member Austin Root, the bill’s sponsor and author, said the bill was needed because ammunition constituted personal gain for its recipients — which is a category that Student Congress cannot fund.

But Grant Anastas-King, president of the Tar Heel Rifle and Pistol Club, said the bill was discriminatory, and more than 50 people attended the meeting to protest.

He said the bill’s passage set a dangerous precedent for members of Student Congress to deny funding for student groups they disagreed with, a violation of the Student Code.

Root said the bill was not discriminatory by the standards of the Student Code.

“All it says is that we can’t discriminate based on age, gender, et cetera,” he said. “None of it says ammunition or anything like that. We’re not discriminating against them. I reject that claim wholeheartedly.”

But Anastas-King said he had evidence that Root was promoting the bill because of negative views on ammunition — not because of any reasons he stated before Student Congress.

The evidence he claimed to have was a copy of an online conversation Root had with speaker pro tempore Connor Brady, which had been circulated around Student Congress during the meeting when another member sent a mass email.

Root declined to comment on the conversation, but Chris Woodward, chairman of the ethics committee, said the online communication between the members was inappropriate.

Anastas-King said he and his organization would pursue a lawsuit to overturn the decision based on violations of the Student Code.

Some members of Student Congress said they were upset by the manner in which the bill was passed.

“I am honestly disgusted by what happened in there,” said Brittany Best, chairwoman of the finance committee. “We should let our constituents and the people we represent speak instead of brushing this issue under the rug.”

Daniel Rojas, who voted for the bill, said debate had not been limited but had lasted for more than three weeks, so ending the debate and voting on the bill was warranted.

“It just saved us from having to be here until midnight,” he said.

Contact the desk editor at university@dailytarheel.com.

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