Under the Dome

NC lawmakers revisit question of guns on campus

The topic of campus safety prompted state legislators on Thursday to revisit the question of allowing holders of concealed-weapon permits working at state colleges to bring handguns to class with them.

The talk came in the North Carolina legislature’s Joint Emergency Management Oversight Committee. Rep. Michael Speciale, a Craven County Republican, posed a question to a UNC official who was detailing campus preparedness for attacks.

“We’re coming into a new session where a lot of things are being considered, do you know what the general feeling is toward maybe staff and faculty carrying concealed on campus?” Speciale asked.

Brent Herron, the UNC system’s associate vice president of campus safety and emergency operations, said that when Gov. Pat McCrory signed House Bill 937 into law in 2013, the UNC system’s stance was that it didn't need to have more weapons on campus. That law made it legal for individuals with concealed-carry permits to keep a firearm locked in a car’s glove box while parked on a public campus.

Herron said that in an active-shooter situation, responding officers might have a difficult time distinguishing between the shooter and lawful gun owners.

“If they’re encountered by our police officers and they don’t obey the police officer’s commands, then we're worried that somebody innocent could be harmed," he said.

Rep. Larry Pittman, a Cabarrus County Republican, said he believed that anyone who “qualified for conceal carry” should be allowed to carry just for that reason.

“By the time police get there, a lot of times it’s too late,” he said. “Somebody could have already stopped the guy.”