MECKLEBBURG COUNTY, N.C. -- As Central Piedmont Community College experience an all-time in student enrollment, it is not the only change to come in its 50 year history.
Starting October 1st, CPCC, all state colleges, universities, and public schools must permit handguns on campus just as long as certain restrictions are followed.
"We want to make sure folks understand that while there are some restrictions, our basic policy remains the same,” said Jeff Lowrance, Public Information Officer at Central Piedmont Community College.
The school sent out e-mails to students and faculty a week in advance to avoid public confusion over the controversial law passed this summer.
“That is one reason we wanted to make sure we got the word out before the law ever took effect.
There will also be discussions going on with various student groups and our security and police officers will also make sure folks understand, that you got to have that weapons permit,” he said.
Under HB 937, handguns are permitted as long as the gun owner has a valid concealed handgun permit.
The gun must either be in a closed compartment/container or locked in a separate container and secured inside the locked vehicle. Leaving it under the seat or hidden from view is a violation of the law.
Only law enforcement and certain exempt individuals would be allowed to carry a gun onto the campus.
CPCC will monitor parking areas using patrol officers and security camera.
Martin Galusha, a student, said he always assumed gunowners with permits were allowed to carry a gun on school property, and said the changes don’t bother him.
"Having guns is not the problem, it’s the people who have the guns,” he said.
Gloria Hicks-Pauling, a student and mother of a young child, was shocked to hear the change in policy.
"I wouldn't want my teachers, the teachers of my child to be bringing their guns, I mean why? That's why we have a police officer, we entrust them,” she said.
Student groups and Police Chiefs representing every UNC institution vocally expressed their opposition before members of the General Assembly.
Despite concerns that the law would put students and staff at greater risk, Paul Valone, President of Grass Roots North the provision to the concealed weapons law was written to deter violent crime in “disarmament zones,” he says criminals know most are likely unarmed.
Anyone removing the gun from their vehicle would be in violation of the law, but Valone believes there will be exception to every rule.
“If there is a circumstance where someone had to take a firearm out for self protection, I doubt there is a jury in the land that would convict them,” said Valone.