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Lawmakers Feel Heat On Bill Eliminating Handgun Permit Requirement

An image of a handgun

Lawmakers could debate a plan to loosen North Carolina's gun regulations as early as Thursday. The Republican majority has struggled to reach a consensus for weeks on the bill called the Second Amendment Affirmation Act as citizens from across the state have lobbied them.

The bill has gotten lots of attention from people like Josette Chmiel. She lives in Durham, she works helping people organize their homes, she owns several guns. Lately she's been spending much her personal time sending emails, making phone calls and knocking on doors. She says she's fighting for her right to bear arms.

"Why would that be important to you?" she asks "Do you want to walk down the street and have a criminal have a gun and your life be threatened by somebody who is not abiding by the law, simply by the nature of their employment, which is criminal?"
The proposed legislation would make 17 changes to the state’s gun laws. Under the most controversial provision, people would no longer need a permit to buy a handgun. Supporters say that, instead, licensed dealers will run the buyer's name through a national database. Opponents point out that someone buying a gun from an individual, non-licensed owner could make the purchase without any check.
Opponents include people like Jenny Doyle, a mother of three, former school teacher and immigration attorney in Raleigh.

Like Schmiel, Doyle spent part of this week on advocacy, but her perspective is the opposite: she says she doesn't want gun laws to be diluted.
"I believe that there needs to be as many restrictions and safeguards when it comes to the community having access to guns, weapons, pistols," she says.
Lawmakers will probably spend a few more weeks debating this bill. The governor has already made it clear he opposes eliminating permit requirements.

Jorge Valencia has been with North Carolina Public Radio since 2012. A native of Bogotá, Colombia, Jorge studied journalism at the University of Maryland and reported for four years for the Roanoke Times in Virginia before joining the station. His reporting has also been published in the Wall Street Journal, the Miami Herald, and the Baltimore Sun.
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