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Group pushes back against prospect of guns at state fair

The executive director of advocacy group North Carolinians Against Gun Violence said her organization collected signatures from nearly 1,000 people who don't want concealed weapons allowed at the state fair.

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RALEIGH, N.C. — Becky Ceartes says the idea of having her 2-year-old son at the North Carolina State Fair, where concealed weapons could be allowed, is unsettling.
The executive director of advocacy group North Carolinians Against Gun Violence, Ceartes said her organization, in partnership with the organization MomsRising, collected signatures from nearly 1,000 people who share her concerns.
She hopes the signatures serve as a counterpoint to the efforts by another group, Grass Roots North Carolina, which has asked the courts for a temporary restraining order to keep the state agriculture department from banning lawfully concealed weapons at the fair, which starts next week.

“All of those people are saying we’re not going to go to the state fair if they allow guns because that’s not going to keep my family safe,” Ceartes said of the signatories.

The North Carolina Department of Agriculture and Consumer Services, as it has in previous years, is planning to put up signs warning against lawful conceal carry at the 11-day event and will ask anyone with a weapon going through metal detectors at fair gates to leave them in their vehicles.

Agriculture Commissioner Steve Troxler has said he's making the decision based on what he says is a vague 2013 law prohibiting people from carrying guns at events where admission is charged.

But Grass Roots North Carolina says there is nothing in the law that requires him to do so, and it believes Troxler is choosing to keep permit-holders from protecting their families.

Clay Ausley, owner of Fuquay Guns, agrees with Grass Roots North Carolina. He said even if someone at the fair accidentally drops a gun on the ground, it’s not likely to be a threat.

“You're in the grocery store every day, the convenience store every day surrounded by people carrying concealed,” he said. “You have no idea they're carrying concealed because they're doing it properly and they're not bothering anybody and they're within their rights.”

But Ceartes said the potential for violence increases when guns are present.

“It’s going to be easier to have victims when you’re talking about unarmed citizens versus armed citizens,” she said. “Armed citizens are much more difficult to make victims.”

A hearing on the request for a temporary restraining order is set for Monday.



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