A bill that would allow concealed weapons on college campuses, public parks and into establishments where alcohol is served has members of the local legislative delegation concerned.
Rep. Garland Pierce, who along with Rep. Ken Goodman voted against the bill, said on Thursday that while he respects the right to bear arms, Pierce thinks that permitting concealed carry in places where alcohol is served is “going too far.”
“We all respect the right to bear arms, that’s America’s way, but when you start bringing guns around public places, where we have children or where we have alcohol — that’s a dangerous mix,” Pierce said. “I wouldn’t want to bring my family into a place like that, so I couldn’t support that bill.”
House Bill 937 would allow concealed carry weapons on college campuses, other state property and greenways as well as on bike trails, at sporting events and in businesses that serve alcohol.
As a former military serviceman, Pierce said that he is especially sensitive to any infringement on the rights guaranteed by the Second Amendment, “but when you start glorifying guns and bringing them into places where they aren’t traditionally carried, that’s a mistake.
“Just look at our restaurants around Laurinburg. Why would you want to bring guns into them?”
Pierce said that he sees the House bill as an extension of nationwide public concern about President Barack Obama’s perceived agenda with regard to gun rights.
“America as a whole is beginning to arm themselves because they feel like the president is trying to take guns from them. That’s the rhetoric you here and their rationale,” Pierce said.
Goodman said that his dissent was based largely on common sense.
“I don’t think we’ll see a lot of shoot outs. It just seems prudent not to go there. It’s hard for me to see how having guns in places where alcohol is served as being a good idea.”
After considering the bill, Goodman said that he could understand and respect the arguments of those who supported it, but that he thinks the greater good would be served by not allowing concealed carry on university campuses and into establishments where alcohol is served.
“I understand that there’s another side (to the discussion) and I’m not opposed to concealed carry. I think it’s fine and there are a lot of places where it’s OK, but no right is absolute.”
A number of university presidents reached out to both Goodman and Pierce asking them to vote against the bill.
“They called us and said ‘Please, don’t vote for that bill because we don’t want guns on our college campuses,’” Goodman said.
The house version of the proposed legislation will now move on to the senate.
Rockingham-based Sen. Gene McLaurin said that because he has yet to read the House bill in its entirety, he does not wish to make a final decision on it at the time.
“I do, however, have serious concerns about it, and I have been talking to and getting input from law enforcement and community college officials with serious concerns about it.
“I share their concerns about granting more access to guns in schools, restaurants, places where alcohol is served and other public places,” McLaurin said.
Reserving judgment on the bill until he reads it completely, McLaurin said that he will take into consideration the concerns of his constituents and the opinions of the community college officials and law enforcement professionals in his district.
“The bill may get changed some in the senate, as well, but I have serious concerns about it right now,” McLaurin said.
Laurinburg Police Chief Kimothy Monroe refused to offer a comment on the bill, saying that he had only read parts of it as of Thursday afternoon.
“I would have to wait until I have read it completely to comment,” Monroe said.
Scotland County Sheriff Shep Monroe could not be reached by presstime.
The North Carolina Sheriff’s Association supported the bill.