Local News

Debate Continues Over Right to Bear Arms in NC

Posted October 27, 1997 12:00 a.m. EST

— The Constitution gives Americans the right to keep and bear arms. North Carolina law gives citizens the right to carry guns with them. But now, a new fight is shaping up about where concealed weapons may be carried, by whom.

The state's 1995 concealed weapons law says business owners can post signs stating "no guns allowed." Now a group calling itself "Grass Roots North Carolina" is urging many merchants to take down those signs. Some say it's intimidation, but the group says people just want to be able to 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 GRNC President Paul Valone, lists names of stores which refuse to remove signs and urges people not to shop there.

Many businesses say they won't be pressured. Record store manager Dave Jackson 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 have applied for carry permits. Wake County Permit Supervisor Lt. Richard May says in Wake County there are just 1,800 permit holders.

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

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

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

Photographer:Ron Pittman