08/18/2005

N.C. law encouraging gun access for domestic violence victims

By STEVE HARTSOE
Associated Press Writer

RALEIGH, N.C.- North Carolina lawmakers have approved a measure that would require courts to give battered spouses something extra when they seek a restraining order - information on how to apply for a concealed weapon.

However, victim's advocates who support efforts to curb domestic violence said the measure could end up causing more problems by bringing guns into already volatile relationships.

"In my experience, if you've got a fire out there, I don't think you put it out by throwing gas on it," said Bart Rick, a Seattle-area sheriff who chairs the National Sheriffs' Association domestic violence committee. "When I read this ... I went 'Whoa.'"

The president of the gun-rights group that pushed for the measure said it's more about helping victims of domestic violence help themselves.

"We're not interested in them shooting their abusers," said Paul Valone, president of Grass Roots North Carolina. "We're interested in delivering a message: When police can't protect these people, they are capable of protecting themselves."

The measure becomes law Oct. 1 unless Gov. Mike Easley decides to veto it. His office declined Wednesday to comment on his plans.

The bill, which passed overwhelmingly in both houses of the legislature, would also add protective orders to the evidence a sheriff can consider when determining whether to issue an emergency permit to carry a concealed weapon. Normally, an applicant must wait 90 days for such a permit.

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