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State gun bill triggers heated debate about school safety

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TWC News: State gun bill triggers heated debate about school safety
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RALEIGH -- A bill that expands where you can bring handguns in the state is headed to the governor's desk and sparking some heated debate.

In part it allows concealed carry permit holders to keep their firearms locked in their cars on college campuses and public school campuses.

Russ Smith with Wake County Schools said the new state gun bill puts student safety in jeopardy.

"Our goal is first and foremost to make sure we have safe campuses," he said. “We don't feel like any bill or anything that would allow guns on our campuses will support that goal to keep our campuses safe."

The bill approved by both the house and senate would allow concealed handgun permit owners to leave their firearms in a locked car on colleges and school campuses

Police chiefs at UNC Greensboro and N.C. State have spoken out in opposition of the measure.

But Paul Valone with pro-gun group, Grassroots North Carolina, said the bill makes something that's been happening for years finally legal.

“The reality is, there are already guns on campuses and if they don't believe this, they are being delusional,” Valone said.

Valone said it's not just a benefit to gun owner,s but the entire state.

“We expect that violent crime in and around campuses, which is a problem in many areas, will go down,” Valone said.

The bill will also allow guns on playgrounds, greenways, and other public recreation areas and into more bars and restaurants.

Gun violence researcher Art Kamm said it is combating violence with violence and will only create headaches for law enforcement.

“If there is a mass shooting that takes place and there are multiple individuals shooting firearms, how can the police tell who's who? in that situation,” Kamm said.

But Valone said those hypothetical situations don't exist.

“Concealed handgun permit owners by virtue of infinitesimal number of crimes have proven themselves law abiding, citizens have nothing to worry from these people,” he explained.

A part of the bill that would have repealed a long-standing law requiring a background check and permit issued by county sheriffs for handgun purchases was taken out of the final bill.

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