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NC lawmakers pass sweeping changes to gun laws

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RALEIGH, NC (AP) -- North Carolina lawmakers have approved a bill greatly expanding where concealed handguns are legally allowed.

The Republican-backed bill approved by both the House and Senate on Tuesday allows concealed-carry permit holders to take firearms into bars and restaurants and other places where alcohol is served, parades, and funeral processions as long as owners or organizers don't expressly forbid it.

The measure now heads to Republican Gov. Pat McCrory's desk.

The bill will also allow concealed-carry permit holders to store weapons in locked cars on the campus of any public school or university, or a state government parking lot. That measure was approved despite the opposition from the police chiefs at all 16 campus in the University of North Carolina system, who fear increased car break-ins and the potential proliferation of gun violence.

The bill also clarifies state law to say permit holders can carry their firearms on trails, to public recreation areas and playgrounds.

The bill establishes uniform state requirements for reporting information about mental health and substance abuse court findings to the national instant criminal background check system and conform these requirements with federal firearms laws

The compromise bill dropped a provision approved by the Senate that would have repealed a long-standing requirement that those purchasing handguns undergo a background check and receive a permit issued by their local sheriff's office.

That caused the North Carolina Sheriffs Association and Attorney General Roy Cooper to oppose the Senate version. McCrory also said he wanted to leave handgun licensing decisions with sheriffs.

Copyright 2013 The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.

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