Bill would allow guns in private, religious schools
Posted February 27, 2013
State Sen. Stan Bingham, R-Davidson, has filed a proposal to allow private and church-affiliated schools to have armed employees or volunteers on site.
The measure, Senate Bill 146, is the latest in a series of bills that would allow guns on school property in North Carolina.
An earlier bill also filed by Bingham, Senate Bill 27, would do the same for public and charter schools, creating "school safety marshals" who could carry guns on the property. But the bills aren't quite identical.
Under Senate Bill 27, to be allowed to carry a gun on a public or charter school campus, an employee or volunteer would have to be trained and certified by the N.C. Criminal Justice Education and Training Standards Commission. They would also have to be approved by either the local school board or the charter's board of trustees.
The private school bill, in contrast, carries no certification requirement other than a concealed-carry permit and allows a single person – a school administrator – to approve the armed employee or volunteer.
Senate Bill 146 would also allow concealed-carry permit holders to carry a gun on church-affiliated school grounds if he or she is attending, coming to or leaving a religious service or event.
At the time he filed his earlier bill, Bingham told WRAL News that he believed a concealed-carry permit was "not near enough training" to carry a gun on a school campus.
Reached late Wednesday, Bingham said he stands by his earlier comment, but he said he's running the bill at the request of "representatives of private Christian schools all around the country" who came to meet with him.
"They were also interested in some kind of protection," he said. "If they get this bill passed in North Carolina, they're going to run it nationwide."
Bingham said he suggested the group should require higher training standards, but they supplied the wording they wanted.
"Whether they'll get it through the legislature, I don't know," he said. "I would say it would be difficult, unless they make it tougher than what they have presently."
Critics warn that the measures could fall afoul of a federal law known as the Gun-Free School Zones Act.
Passed in 1996, the law bans guns in zones defined as on the grounds of a public, parochial or private school or within 1,000 feet from the grounds of those schools. Schools found to be in violation of the GFSZA could risk the loss of federal funding.
However, supporters point out that the GFSZA makes an exception for "firearm possessors licensed by the state or locality to possess the gun, whose law requires that, before the person obtains a license, state or local law enforcement verify that the person is qualified to receive the license."