Raleigh, N.C. — Several hundred people rallied in downtown Raleigh Tuesday in an effort to halt proposed gun-control legislation on Capitol Hill and to call on state lawmakers to protect Second Amendment rights.
Grass Roots North Carolina, which was founded 20 years ago to protest a national assault weapons ban, organized the event on Halifax Mall outside the legislature as Congress once again takes up the idea of restricting access to automatic weapons and high-capacity magazines.
Paul Valone, co-founder of the group, said no compromise is possible when discussing constitutional rights.
"Compromise in the gun debate denotes a process in which we lose just slightly less than we would have lost under our opposition's original proposal, but we still lose," Valone said. "We don't just lose one debate; we embolden those who would control us if they can. We don't just lose some nasty-looking, so-called assault weapons; we lose freedom."
North Carolina has had a concealed weapons law on the books for almost two decades, and it's time to expand gun rights rather than curtail them. He said concealed weapons should be allowed in schools and restaurants, among other locations.
"Concealed handgun permit holders have spent 18 years proving themselves sane, sober and law-abiding," he said.
Rep. Larry Pittman, R-Cabarrus, said he plans to introduce a constitutional amendment to allow people to carry concealed weapons everywhere aside from schools, courthouses and any private buildings where the owners have posted gun restrictions.
Pittman read the proposed amendment to the cheers of the crowd: "Any attempt to disarm the law-abiding citizens of the State of North Carolina shall be resisted by the full power of the State of North Carolina, and citizens who have committed no crime have the right personally to resist confiscation of their weapons."
Thomas Ross, manager of Sammy's Tap and Grill, on Avent Ferry Road in Raleigh, said he doesn't like the idea of guns in his restaurant.
"I'm all for the right to carry, but I feel it's my right as well to let you in or not," Ross said. "It's just our personal space."
Sammy's customer Eric McBrayer, a gun owner, said he believes the current law is fine.
"I still do believe in Second Amendment rights, but you know, there's a time and a place for everything," McBrayer said.
At the rally, Leon Wilson said the time is right for him and other gun rights supporters.
"An armed society is a polite society, so if you have guns in the hands of good guys, you're going to have a safer society," Wilson said.
Rep. Tim Moore, R-Cleveland, said crime is at the root of the gun debate, and offenders should be punished, not law-abiding gun owners.
Former state Rep. Glenn Bradley said North Carolinians need to understand the state and U.S. constitutions and hold their elected officials accountable to uphold them.
Bill LuMaye, a talk show host on WPTF-AM, compared President Barack Obama to a tyrannical king who is trying to take away the God-given rights of U.S. citizens, and he said the Republican-controlled General Assembly needs to step into the breach and protect North Carolina residents from the federal government.
"The pursuit of life, liberty and happiness and all of that, I think, is absolutely dependent on the Second Amendment," LuMaye said. "Without that, I'm not sure the rest of the freedoms would be around very long."