Gun-control law overcomes amendments to pass legislature

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RALEIGH, N.C. (AP) (AP)ong> - A gun-control bill won lopsided approval in the North Carolina Senate Monday, a reflection of the bipartisan coalition formed in the House to delete a proposed repeal of the state's pistol permit requirement.

As passed, the bill makes various changes to the state's firearms statutes. It would allow permitted district attorneys to bring concealed handguns into court rooms, remove some misdemeanors from disqualifying a person from obtaining a concealed carry permit and create a unified process for the application of a pistol permit.

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It would also allow the Commissioner of Agriculture to ban carrying concealed firearms on the State Fairgrounds during the State Fair.

In a committee hearing last week, both the National Rifle Association and gun-control advocates said the bill was not perfect, but asked lawmakers to pass it.

Conservative Republicans in a House committee last month added amendments to end the use of pistol permits, as well as allowing lawmakers to bring concealed weapons into the Legislative Building in Raleigh.

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The amendments were opposed by Gov. Pat McCrory and the North Carolina Sheriff's Association, as well as gun-control groups. When the bill reached the House floor for debate, a coalition of moderate Republicans and Democrats successfully repealed the amendments.

Sen. Jeff Tarte, R-Mecklenburg, introduced the bill to the Senate Monday and asked both sides to refrain from adding amendments. Several Democrats asked legal question about the impact of the bill, but for the most part refrained from debate.

"It is going to be tough for me, but at the end of the day I have to support this bill," said Sen. Smith-Ingram, D-Northampton, an ordained minister who said she felt clergy would be safer with concealed weapons after nine people were killed by a gunman at a Charleston, South Carolina, church.

Smith-Ingram was one of seven Senate Democrats who voted in favor of the bill, along with 33 Republicans. Eight Democrats and one Republican voted against it.

The bill was sent to Gov. Pat McCrory for his signature.