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Debate Continues Over Right to Bear Arms in NC

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RALEIGH — The Constitution gives Americans the right tokeep and bear arms. North Carolina law gives citizens the right to carryguns with them. But now, a new fight is shaping up about where concealedweapons may be carried, by whom.

The state's 1995 concealed weapons law says business owners can postsigns stating "no guns allowed." Now a group calling itself "Grass RootsNorth Carolina" is urging many merchants to take down those signs. Somesay it's intimidation, but the group says people just want to be ableto protect themselves.

Anyone who owns a business and posts such a sign, may find his business on a web site for Grass Roots North Carolina. The group, according to GRNCPresident Paul Valone, lists names ofstores which refuse to remove signs and urges people not to shop there.

Many businesses say they won't be pressured. Record store manager DaveJackson says his policy won't change.

GRNC leaders say merchants have nothing to fear from them.

Sheriff's departments who do the background checks say few haveapplied for carry permits. Wake County Permit Supervisor Lt. Richard May says in Wake County there are just 1,800 permitholders.

One of the big concerns is legal liability. Some lawyers say ifmerchants post signs they are protected from lawsuits if anything happens.Other lawyers say the signs deny individuals the right to protectthemselves which could also result in a lawsuit. So far. neither ofthese theories have been tested in court.

The most likely person to have a concealed weapons permit in NorthCarolina is a white male from 46 to 50-years-old.

In the past two years 30,756 people applied for a permit to carrya gun. Just under 29,000 were granted such licenses. Thatmeans, statewide, only 328 of the 31,000 applications were denied.Some people believe that criminals don't often bother to get apermit to carry a gun.

Photographer:Ron Pittman

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