RALEIGH, N.C. (WNCN) – Following the second lockdown incident at UNC-Chapel Hill this semester, House Speaker Tim Moore (R) questioned on Thursday whether the campus should be a gun-free zone. 

The campus went into lockdown on Wednesday after police said a man pointed a gun at another person working at a bagel shop on campus.  

“A couple questions about that. One of course is, is that the campus is a gun-free zone. And so, a number of students have said why do they have to be unarmed when clearly there’s a way bad guys can get on the campus?” Moore asked, suggesting that gun-free zones are not working.  

Chapel Hill police arrested Mickel Deonte Harris, of Durham, who is charged with a series of crimes including possessing a firearm on educational property, assault and two counts of communicating threats. No one was shot during the incident, police said. 

The incident led to students, faculty and staff sheltering in place Wednesday afternoon for more than an hour for the second time in just over two weeks.   

In a separate incident on Aug. 28, associate professor Dr. Zijie Yan was shot and killed at the Caudill Labs building on campus.  

“You’re not just going to snap your fingers and get rid of guns. That’s not reality. Criminals are going to have guns. And, the best deterrent against a criminal with a gun is a good guy with a gun,” Moore said. “We need to back our law enforcement. We need to ensure lawful gun owners have the right to have their guns. But, we also need to make sure the criminal justice system is working.” 

House Democratic Leader Robert Reives was taken aback by Moore’s comments. 

“It frightens me to think that while I was in college between 18 and 21 that friends of mine who are in great positions in the world right now would have had immediate gun access,” he said. 

Moore noted he has a son at UNC-Chapel Hill. 

Republican Senate leader Phil Berger did not echo Moore’s comments on gun-free zones but rather questioned whether any additional laws would have had an impact on the two recent incidents. 

“I certainly understand the desire to do something,” Berger said but added he didn’t think there was anything that was “reasonable” for the legislature to do.  

Speaker Moore’s comments came after UNC students and activists came to the state legislative building urging lawmakers to action. 

A group of them disrupted the House’s voting session Tuesday afternoon after Speaker Moore introduced them and began shouting “vote them out.”  

Moore, who noted he’s a UNC-Chapel Hill alum, quipped, “Are you all sure you’re not from Duke?”  

He faced criticism for those comments, including from Rep. Julie von Haefen (D-Wake), who called the remarks “callous.” 

She said, “Kids are begging us to do something. They deserve more.”  

Moore said Thursday, “Those students violated our rules by yelling and screaming and disrupting the business of the House. And, I could see there was a lot of tension in the room and a lot of anger. So, sometimes you use humor to try to lighten the mood a little bit because you could tell people were offended by that.”