Commentary

Editorial endorses gun safety package proposed by NC Democratic lawmakers

Be sure to check out the lead editorial in today’s edition of the Fayetteville Observer. In “School safety isn’t a partisan issue,” the Observer explains why state Republican leaders should seriously consider a package of gun safety proposals put forth by their Democratic colleagues.

Here are some excerpts:

“The proposals, unveiled Monday by five Democratic House and Senate members from urban counties, include:

• Expanding the background checks now required for the purchase of handguns to sales of “assault-style” weapons.

• Raising the minimum age for purchasing those weapons from 18 to 21.

• Allowing the courts to issue orders to take firearms from people who are adjudged a danger to themselves or their community.

• Banning “bump stock” devices that turn semiautomatic weapons into rapid-firing automatic weapons.

• Creating a statewide pilot program in which students could send with their electronic devices anonymous tips about school safety concerns.

Those proposals are similar to ones contained in gun legislation that passed nearly unanimously in the heavily Republican Florida legislature, in reaction to the Parkland shootings that killed 17 people. Some of them might have prevented the Parkland shooter, 19-year-old Nikolas Jacob Cruz, from getting and using the military-style, high-capacity weapon he used.

They are also similar to proposals put forward by Democratic Gov. Roy Cooper last week. We hope that partisanship doesn’t doom these reasonable ideas.

Some Republicans in the General Assembly have already warned that the governor is trying to restrict their Second Amendment rights. But the Second Amendment doesn’t confer absolute rights. This country has long extended reasonable restrictions — the need for adequate training and safety, age limits for ownership, bans on weapons of mass destruction. And there is nothing in the Democratic proposals that will interfere with the right of sane adults to own and use the legal weapons of their choice — including military-style semiautomatic rifles with high-capacity magazines. These restrictions would only keep those weapons out of the hands of unstable and dangerous people, and would prevent teenagers from buying them.”

After noting that today’s meeting of a special committee charged with examining school safety is expected to feature a look at a variety of issues, the editorial concludes like this:

“So far this year, we are averaging one school shooting a week across America. It’s clear that the problem is serious, and may be getting worse. The crusading Parkland kids are right: They should be able to feel safe in their classrooms. And we adults are the ones who can make them safer. North Carolina lawmakers need to check their partisanship at the door and come up with legislation that makes it happen.”

Amen to that.

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