What are we waiting for?
Like U.S. Congress and other state governments, North Carolina has bills on gun regulation that have been just sitting.
Waiting for ... what?
We don’t know.
But in the wake of one of the deadliest weekends for mass shootings in 2019, it’s well past time for the North Carolina bills to get moving.
House Bill 454, the so-called “red flag” bill, would allow family members or law officers to petition a judge to limit access to firearms for a person considered a threat, under what is called an extreme risk protection order. Seventeen states and Washington, D.C., currently have red flag laws.
House Bill 86 would require a permit to purchase long guns; permits are currently only required to buy pistols in North Carolina. The bill would also add a 72-hour waiting period for gun purchases and require that guns be safely stored, among other measures.
Democratic Gov. Roy Cooper is calling for action on the bills and trying to put pressure on the Republicans who control both the House and Senate in the General Assembly.
College student Drew Pescaro weighed in, powerfully. He survived a shooting at UNC-Charlotte in April in which two of his classmates were murdered and he and others were injured. Pescaro was shot in the back and at a news conference on Tuesday, he lifted up his shirt to show scars from his multiple surgeries. He talked about how his scars, both physical and mental, would stay with him forever.
It is difficult to understand at this point what will make some politicians act on gun regulation. If not Pescaro’s scars, why wouldn’t it be the 22 people murdered in El Paso on Saturday and the nine people murdered just 13 hours later in Dayton, Ohio? Why wouldn’t it be the nearly 250 mass murders just this year or the nearly 40,000 gun deaths in America last year?
What does it take?
House Democrats are trying to use petitions to get the two bills to the floor to be heard. They will need six Republicans to sign on, according to the news accounts. Senate leader Phil Berger and House Speaker Tim Moore have not publicly indicated whether they support the petitions.
Of the two bills, the one that might stand a chance is the red flag bill. Such laws have drawn more Republican support than most gun regulation bills. Donald Trump has advocated for them, as well as South Carolina Sen. Lindsey Graham; there is bipartisan support in the U.S. Senate for a law that would make it easier for states to pass their own versions of red flag.
House Bill 454 was submitted in February of last year in response to the mass murder at a high school in Parkland, Fla. Hopefully we won’t have to wait until another shooting, and then another, before we can move forward as a state to protect our citizens.
The Fayetteville Observer
Three first steps ...
There is nothing wrong with offering “thoughts and prayers” after another of America’s now-ubiquitous mass shootings.
In the end, though, we know it will take practical and achievable action to stop the carnage.
What we can — and must — do is aggressively push for the measures that have at least a chance of being enacted. We should identify steps we can build consensus around and ensure some momentum is maintained. We have to play the long game.
We need “red flag” laws to empower family members and law enforcement officials to keep firearms out of the hands of people judged dangerous.
Another sensible way to keep guns from some potentially dangerous people is a federal law requiring background checks for all firearms purchases. We also should push for federal restrictions on certain semi-automatic firearms “platforms,” including the AR-15 style rifles, a weapon of choice for mass shooters.
Gun zealots will fight these proposals, but, as the late Justice Antonin Scalia put it, “Like most rights, the right secured by the Second Amendment is not unlimited.”
It is “not a right to keep and carry any weapon whatsoever in any manner whatsoever and for whatever purpose.”
The Wilmington StarNews