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Concealed weapon bill ready for NC House floor

By Associated Press
Michael Hennessey
Published On: May 06 2013 05:28:21 AM CDT
Updated On: May 06 2013 05:18:06 PM CDT
NORTH CAROLINA -

Greenville Police arrested two men on gun charges near the East Carolina University campus early Sunday morning.

They say they arrested 21-year-old Timothy Terell Jones and 22-year-old Jarret Jarmal Gray after a traffic stop Sunday morning. According to officers, the men were circling South Summit and East 3rd Streets when the stop was made.

Police said they searched the suspects' car and found a .22 caliber pistol. The passenger, Gray, is a convicted felon, officers said.

GPD says they’ve stepped up patrols after a string of ECU students being robbed.

On campus safety is a priority for students. "I just try to stay in my dorm after, pretty much after twelve,” said ECU Freshman Josh Croom, “try not to go out late at night, especially by myself."

It’s also a concern for lawmakers. Monday, the North Carolina House was scheduled to debate a bill that would allow concealed weapons permit holders to have a firearm locked in the trunk of their car on college campuses. Those for the bill say it would serve as a crime deterrent.

ECU students aren’t sure if it would make them safer. "I feel like it would make me worry more," said Croom. Fellow ECU Freshman Michael Biello said he thinks if the bill is passed, guns on campus need to be closely monitored. “It should be very hard to obtain and very easy to lose. You know, it shouldn't be something that's taken lightly," said Biello.

"I know it's a weapon of defense but I don't think people should have it. Because it can cause, I think it can cause more disruption," said Molly Cahill, also an ECU Freshman.

The bill would pertain to all public colleges in North Carolina, including community colleges.

It would also allow gun permit holders to bring guns into restaurants that serve alcohol. It would also strengthen penalties for gun-related crimes. 

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Some North Carolina lawmakers want to give concealed weapon permit holders more places to carry or store their pistols.

The House scheduled debate Monday on a Republican-backed measure that's endorsed by gun-rights groups but opposed strongly by university leaders.

Some provisions would allow concealed weapon permit-holders the ability to store a gun in a locked car on a University of North Carolina or community college campus. Boosters say the weapons will serve as a crime deterrent. UNC President Tom Ross says the provision would only increase safety risks.

The proposal also would let permit holders arm themselves in a restaurant where alcohol is served unless the establishment expressly prohibits concealed weapons.

The bill also includes longer penalties for gun-related crimes.