The North Carolina House has overwhelmingly passed a bill 73-38 that would allow students to carry concealed weapons on college campuses. The votes largely fell along party lines. A few Democrats joined the GOP majority to support gun rights.
This marks a significant victory for NC gun rights activists, but the bill still has a few restrictions. First of all, the law only applies to universities that accept public funds. Private universities will be able to manage their campuses however they please.
Additionally, the bill does not allow students to carry guns into classrooms, which effectively prohibits students from carrying weapons during their day-to-day activities. The bill would mostly allows students to keep concealed weapons in their vehicles.
Rep. Justin Burr, who sponsored the bill, said, "Please tell me why in the world we would want to prevent law-abiding citizens from protecting themselves?" Co-sponsor Jacqueline Schaffer called it “a good and balanced bill.”
UNC Charlotte Chancellor Philip Dubois, however, was unhappy that the bill did not go far enough. “I don’t believe having everybody return to their car to get their weapon is a sensible solution to an armed shooter on campus,” he said. “Frankly I don’t think that there are many parents who think that’s a sensible solution, either.”
Dubois is something of an anomaly. Many university officials have expressed their distaste for the bill and intend to continue the fight against guns on campus. Rep. Darren Jackson said that he was “ashamed” of the House. Deborah Ross asked, "Why are you giving people something they emphatically do not want and will subject them to acts of violence where they already feel safe?"
Critics also fear that storing guns in cars will lead to more car break-ins and thefts, thereby exacerbating crime when the bill is supposed to cut down on crime.
This bill proves that schools are still a hot topic in the national debate as lawmakers and activists continue to battle over guns in schools.