In Washington and Raleigh, gun debate takes center stage
Back from its spring recess, Congress is expected to tackle gun violence prevention in Washington this week. Likewise, gun control legislation will be a hot topic in Raleigh.
On Tuesday, members of the House Education Committee will discuss the merits of the 2013 School Safety Act. House Bill 452 would set aside $30 million in matching grant funds for local school districts to cover the costs of additional school resource officers, psychologists, and guidance counselors in elementary and middle schools over the next two years.
This bipartisan bill by the N.C. legislature is in response to the Connecticut shooting last December in which 20 first-graders and six adults were killed by a gunman at Sandy Hook Elementary School.
Local governments would receive $2 in state funds for each local dollar they spend to improve school safety. The bill would also require that by July 1, 2015, every public school have a panic alarm system that connects with the nearest local law enforcement agency. HB 452 does not include any provision that would allow or require teachers to carry weapons on school grounds.
At the same time on Tuesday, the Senate Judiciary I Committee will take up legislation which would make it a felony to discharge a firearm “within any building, structure, motor vehicle, or other conveyance, erection, or enclosure.”
Senator Pete Brunstetter’s bill stems from a 2012 case in Kernersville in which a man fired three shots inside a Walmart and then left the scene. Senate Bill 124 would make such action a Class E felony to willfully or wantonly discharge a firearm in an enclosed space with the intent to do harm or incite fear.
In yet another committee, legislation that would allow hunters to hunt with firearms equipped with silencers will be heard this week by the Senate’s Agriculture/Environment/Natural Resources Committee.
Supporters say silencers (also known as suppressors) prevent noise pollution and protect hunters from hearing damage. Critics argue that the noise serves as a warning sign. Still, others debate whether it is unsportsmanlike to hunt with a silencer.
Finally, the ACLU of Wake County will host a forum on “Guns in Our Society” Wednesday evening in Raleigh.
Speakers will include: ACLU-NC National Board Representative Carlos Mahoney, North Carolinians Against Gun Violence Executive Director Gail Neely, Grassroots North Carolina President Paul Valone, and Earl Woodham, Public Information Officer with the Charlotte Field Division of the Bureau of Alcohol,Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives (ATF).
For those interested in attending, the forum will be held at 7:00 p.m. Wednesday at the NC Advocates for Justice, 1312 Annapolis Drive, Raleigh, NC.