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Students, legislators to talk gun reforms in “reverse town hall” Sunday

North Carolina students and lawmakers will tackle gun violence and possible reforms this weekend in Chapel Hill.

The event, a “reverse town hall,” will allow four state legislators—two Republicans and two Democrats—to ask questions Sunday of a panel of high school and college students, according to organizers at the UNC Institute of Politics, a nonpartisan, student-led program.

The panel is set to include high schoolers from Raleigh and Johnston County, as well as college students statewide representing groups like the UNC Young Democrats, College Republicans, Tar Heel Pistol and Rifle Club and the UNC Black Student Movement.

They’ll be questioned by Rep. John Faircloth, R-Guilford; Rep. John Torbett, R-Gaston; Rep. Cynthia Ball, D-Wake and Sen. Jay Chaudhuri, D-Wake.

Torbett and Faircloth are co-chair and vice chair, respectively, of a select committee assembled by House Speaker Tim Moore this year to address school safety after a shooting at a Florida high school left 17 dead in February.

The shooting prompted an avalanche of activism from students nationwide, including students in North Carolina.

Rep. Cynthia Ball, D-Wake

“I am honored to be involved with IOP’s Reverse Town Hall on Gun Violence and to have the opportunity to ask questions of students from across North Carolina, listening to their insights and concerns about the issue of gun violence,” Ball said in a statement. “It is time to work together on bipartisan solutions to ensure student safety and address the issue of gun violence more broadly.”

Meanwhile, Faircloth said the issue is “very important” to him.

“We are committed to examining data and hearing input from all viewpoints, and that includes North Carolina’s students as that is the constituency we serve and protect,” Faircloth said in a statement.

Sunday’s town hall is scheduled for 5 p.m. at the Stone Center on UNC-Chapel Hill’s campus.

School safety has remained very much in the headlines since this year’s Florida high school shooting, owing in large part to organized, youth advocacy organizations.

Indeed, Gov. Roy Cooper announced plans Thursday to set aside $130 million in his pending budget proposal this year to finance school safety upgrades and more support personnel like counselors, psychologists, nurses and school resource officers.

Of course, the Democratic governor’s proposal would have to be vetted and approved by the Republican-controlled General Assembly before the spending increases could take effect.

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