PITT COUNTY - A bill that has made its way to the North Carolina Senate would protect the identities of those who own concealed weapons permits or handguns. The list of such residents is currently public record.
The new bill passed the North Carolina House on Monday by a vote of 97-20.
"[What] it boils down to, is it's anybody's business that I have a gun and it's not. It's not really the state's business or anybody else's business if I have a gun," said Rep. Michael Speciale (R-District 3).
Following the Sandy Hook massacre in Newtown, Connecticut in December, 2012, a New York newspaper released a list of handgun owners in its area, including their addresses, Rep. Speciale said. This allowed criminals seeking firearms to pinpoint the homes of the gun owners. The new bill is aimed at preventing similar instances from happening in North Carolina, Rep. Speciale said.
The bill would still allow state and local law enforcement access to the records.
ECU students shared their opinions on the bill. Zach Latta said he thinks the records should be private.
"If a gunman came in and he knew certain people were armed, he'd probably be going for them first," Latta said.
"I think as long as the people who are in law enforcement and government can access it, that's fine," said Khayla Swain, another ECU student. "We don't have any reason to know who's carrying a weapon."
But other ECU students disagreed.
"I'm all for everybody owning their own gun. If they're not going to do anything bad with it, I don't think they should be worried about it being public records," said Luis Floren.
"It's fair that people have their names out there because it's a private thing, kind of, but then again, it's just safety," Chris Puckett said.
If enacted, the bill would go into effect on Dec. 1.