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N.C. gun group wants concealed guns allowed in more public places

Image has not been found. URL: http://images.americanindependent.com/gun_thumb.jpgThe shooting rampage in Tucson, Ariz., in early January is not blunting calls by North Carolina gun rights advocates for the ability to carry concealed weapons on college campuses, malls, restaurants and other areas, the head of the state’s NRA affiliate says.

David McFarling, president of the NC Rifle and Pistol Association, said his group is optimistic that the new Republican-led General Assembly will look favorably on expanding the areas where concealed guns can be carried.

McFarling said putting fewer public places off limits for guns would enhance public safety by enabling citizens to defend themselves. He said his members want to carry concealed weapons in “restaurants, theaters and malls — where you really might need it.”

The Tucson shooting occurred Jan. 8 in a shopping center where accused shooter Jared Loughner approached U.S. Rep. Gabrielle Giffords (D-Ariz.) during an outdoor meeting with constituents. Six people were killed and more than a dozen were injured, including Giffords, who was shot in the head.

“It’s very sad anytime you have something like that happen,” said McFarling, 53, an electrical contractor and sport shooting enthusiast from Chapel Hill. “But gun laws one way or another wouldn’t have made any difference. That boy was crazy. He would have done what he was going to do anyway.”

North Carolina gun laws ban concealed weapons in most public places and all gun owners are required to pass a federal background check and a review by their local sheriff.

Roxane Kolar, executive director of North Carolinians Against Gun Violence, said the laws should not be changed.

“Our guns laws are fine. They’re very strong,” Kolar said. “I don’t think we need to see a weakening. I don’t think we need more guns in public places.”

McFarling thinks more concealed guns carried by law abiding citizens would prevent mass shootings.

“It’s just a shame in Arizona there wasn’t someone there with a permit to carry,” McFarling said. “He would saved a lot of pain and anguish.”

Kolar said previous attempts to expand the areas where concealed firearms can be carried have met broad resistance from restaurant owners and the general public.

“People don’t support it,” she said, adding, “If legislators listen to their constituents, it won’t pass and that’s what’s important.”

But McFarling sees an opportunity with Republicans in control of the General Assembly for the first time in more than a century.

“Now that the Republican/conservatives have the power in the Legislature, hopefully we’ll be able to get some of these things cleaned up,” he said.

McFarling said the NCRPA, which he said has a membership of about 1,800, also will push for passage of the so-called “Castle Doctrine” bill. The proposed law would allow occupants of a home to use deadly force against an intruder regardless of whether the intruder is carrying a weapon. The law would provide the shooter immunity from criminal prosecution as well as civil action.

Allowing home occupants more leeway in using firearms is opposed by social workers who visit homes and private employees such as pest exterminators and delivery people who feel they would be at greater risk of a mistaken shooting, Kolar said.

“We have a self-defense law on the books. It works fine,” Kolar said. “[The Castle Doctrine] law is reckless. It’s vigilantism.”

On another front, McFarling said he would oppose outlawing the high volume ammunition clips used in the Tucson shooting. The gun used in Tucson had a magazine with at least 30 rounds, a clip that can be emptied in 10 seconds of firing. The shooting prompted calls for renewal of a federal ban on large capacity magazines holding more than 10 rounds. The ban expired in 2004.

McFarling said the shooter, not the shooting capacity, was the problem.

“The clip just a inanimate object. It’s the way it’s used. Unfortunately [the Tucson shooter] chose to use one in a very unlawful and malicious manner,” said McFarling, who uses a 19-round clip in target shooting competitions.

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