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Critics: No good can come from guns in public

Hands aim handgun. (AP)
March 31, 2011 7:45:16 PM PDT
House Bill 111 is one of four bills working their way through the legislature that would loosen gun laws in North Carolina.

Critics of the bill are fired up, saying nothing good can come of allowing guns in restaurants and parks.

At the Personal Defense and Handgun Safety Center in Raleigh, you don't have to look hard to find someone with a concealed carry permit.

"I feel like it's safer for me to have one," said Autumn Young, who carries a concealed gun.

She likes House Bill 111. "I think that I went out of my way to get a concealed carry permit," she said. "I should be able to use that. It doesn't make that much sense for me to have one and have to take it out and leave it in my car."

But Chris Fitzsimon, with the left-leaning NC Police Watch, disagrees.

"I'm betting there are going to be accidents and people are going to be hurt," Fitzsimon said. "It's just senseless, there's no reason for it."

Republican Kelly Hastings, who represents Gaston and Cleveland counties, says it's an individual's right. She's also one of the bill's sponsors and says it's about two things -- the Second Amendment and safety.

"There's nothing that's going to stop a criminal from carrying a concealed weapon into a bar, any kind of assault weapon, from knife to throwing star," Hastings said. "A criminal will take a weapon wherever he wants to take it. That's the fact of the matter."

Three other gun bills are working their way through the Assembly as well. Each in some way, easing gun restrictions for elected officials, district attorneys and some of their employees and probation and parole officers.

But for many, most concerning is the idea of allowing anyone with a concealed carry permit to carry in parks and restaurants. Places where critics say guns don't belong.

"I think it's very troubling that the next time you go out to eat with your family, the guy in the next booth could have a loaded handgun under his shirt," Fitzsimon said.

ABC11 Eyewitness News was told earlier this week about 40 lawmakers attended a concealed carry class offered to legislators. In fact, some were turned away because there weren't enough materials.

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