Concealed handgun permit holders would be able to lock their handguns in their cars when they park on college campuses under a sweeping gun rights measure that passed the House Judiciary A Committee Wednesday.
The measure increases the potential penalties for some gun-related crimes but is focused on expanding the rights of gun owners, particularly those who hold concealed handgun permits.
Representatives of the National Rifle Association, Grass Roots North Carolina and other gun owner rights groups endorsed the bill during the committee hearing, saying it granted changes long sought by gun owners.
"With respect to the campus provisions on this bill, frankly, it's more limited than we wanted," said Paul Valone, president of Grass Roots North Carolina, adding that his group still supported the bill. "The entire purpose of this is deterrence. We are looking at deterring violent sociopaths from crimes on campuses."
The campus provision applies to all public community college and university campuses in the state. Independent colleges and universities would have the choice of whether to allow firearms on campus but would have to post a prohibition.
"This has been since I remember a hard line in the sand we have refused to cross," said Tim McDowell, a lobbyist for the North Carolina Independent Colleges & Universities Association. "We think the best policy is to ban handguns on higher education facilities."