gunsRALEIGH — Advocates for gun rights in North Carolina are pushing to expand who can carry loaded weapons and where they can do so.

The bill does everything from allow to allow a citizen to sue if a local government restricts their gun rights, to removing some of the exemptions for whom is prohibited from carrying a concealed weapon.

A House committee reviewed and advanced the legislation Tuesday. The proposal includes the following provisions:

• Block schools from telling permitted concealed handgun owners they cannot store a weapon in their car.
• Reduce the penalty for taking guns into businesses that want to keep them out
• Allow the state agriculture commissioner to prohibit visitors to the annual State Fair from carrying guns at the fairgrounds
• Doctors could not ask about gun ownership on an intake questionnaire

“There is no medical reason for a doctor who is treating you for ingrown toenails to know whether you have weapons in your home or not,” said Rep. George Cleveland, an Onslow County Republican.

People convicted of misdemeanor crimes would become eligible again for a concealed handgun permit after three years, except for domestic violence offenders.

“So people who have been stalked, if they have been stalked five years ago, it allow those people to get a gun. That is incredibly unsafe to those victims and the public at large,” said Becky Ceartas, of North Carolinians Against Gun Violence.

The same bill also ends a current ban on district attorneys carrying concealed weapons in court.

“It would remove that prohibiting language and allow them to carry in the same manner that judges and clerks of courts are allowed to carry,” said Legislative staff attorney Susan Sitze.

Bill sponsors say they believe the bill is  a good balance  protecting the rights of gun owners and preserving citizen safety.

“We do think that we have a good comprehensive piece of legislation that really does answer the concerns of making sure that we have the appropriate background checks etc. and making sure that we are doing what is necessary to protect the second amendment rights of our law abiding citizens,” said Rep. Jacqueline Schaffer, a Mecklenburg County Republican.

The bill now goes to the full House for consideration.

– Loretta Boniti