Commentary

Best argument against latest gun bill is from pro-gun groups four years ago

The House is set to vote today on legislation that would weaken gun laws in North Carolina again by ending the requirement that people have to get a permit to carry a concealed weapon.

The permit process includes an application to the local sheriff’s office, which runs a background check and makes sure there are no documented mental health problems. Applicants must be at least 21 and also attend an eight-hour gun safety class.

Under the proposal before the House, the permit requirement would be abolished and the minimum age of people allowed to carry a hidden, loaded handgun would be lowered to 18.

Law enforcement officials are speaking out against the plan and more than 80 percent of voters in the state oppose it.

But the best argument against allowing anyone 18 and older to carry a concealed weapon anywhere they want might be the promises from the pro-gun crowd a few years ago when they were pushing legislation to allow hidden handguns in bars and restaurants and playgrounds.

Here’s then Senator Thom Goolsby, now a member of the UNC Board of Governors, in a WRAL-TV story from the 2013 debate, defending expanding the number of places where concealed weapons  were allowed.

In the Senate, backers of the bill said that the expansion of rights for concealed handgun permit holders was appropriate. Sen. Thom Goolsby, R-New Hanover, noted that those who obtain such permits go through extra training and background checks. “They’re the people we don’t have to worry about,” he said.

A story in the Indy Week a few months later about the efforts of Grass Roots North Carolina to convince bars to allow concealed weapons in their establishments quoted from a card the group was handing out.

You have nothing to fear from concealed handgun permit holders, who by virtue of training and background checks, have proven themselves sane, sober and law-abiding, the GRNC card reads.

Just four years ago, the pro-gun activists were reassuring everybody that it was safe to allow people to carry their hidden and loaded handguns everywhere because they were trained and had undergone thorough, local background checks as part of the permitting process.

Now those same pro-gun forces are demanding an end to that process and the very safeguards they promised it would provide.

Uncategorized

More than 80 percent of NC voters do not want gun laws weakened

The overwhelming majority of North Carolina voters do not support legislation making its way through the General Assembly that would abolish the requirement to get a permit to carry a concealed handgun.

The News & Observer reports that two separate polls find that over 80 percent of voters oppose the proposal that would also allow 18-year-olds to carry a loaded, hidden handgun.

Currently you have to be 21 to apply for a permit.

Many law enforcement officials are also opposed to the idea of making it easier to buy a handgun, including Guilford County Sheriff B.J. Barnes.

The House is likely to vote on the bill this week, when we will find out if they are listening to their constituents or the gun lobbyists–which seem to have a different view than most gun owners, including a former Marine quoted in the News & Observer story.

John “Curly” Brazelton of Havelock, a former Marine who belongs to a hunting club, said in an interview with The N&O last week that everyone in his hunting club opposes the idea of eliminating concealed-carry permits.

“We all have them,” Brazelton said. “We have the best law in the country right now.”

 

Commentary

GOPers bizarrely celebrate Supreme Court decision confirming they violated the Constitution

Raleigh is still buzzing about the unanimous U.S. Supreme Court decision to uphold a lower court’s ruling and affirm that the racially gerrymandered General Assembly districts drawn by Republican legislative leaders violated the Constitution.

The court did not agree with the lower court ruling that the state should hold special legislative elections in 2017 under new districts, but that is still possibility. The remedy to address the unconstitutional districts will be decided by a lower court.

Not long after the news of the ruling broke, NC GOP Executive Director Dallas Woodhouse tweeted that “Supreme Court Issues Brutal Takedown of 4th Circuit Call for Special Elections.”

Two key Republican legislators involved in redistricting issues, Rep. David Lewis and Sen. Ralph Hise, issued an equally bewildering statement.

We are encouraged the Supreme Court unanimously rejected the lower court’s politically motivated attempt to force a special legislative election in 2017 and its efforts to ‘suspend provisions of the North Carolina Constitution,’ ignore voters’ constitutional right to elect representatives to two-year terms, and effectively nullify their votes from 2016.

They are encouraged that the U.S. Supreme Court with a Republican majority unanimously decided that they violated the constitution by illegally using race to draw legislative districts? That’s something to proud of?

The big question now is what the courts will do to address the illegal gerrymandering, decide that voters have been represented long enough by lawmakers elected in unconstitutional districts and order a special election in 2017 or wait until 2018 and allow more laws to be made by legislators elected in illegal districts?

Perhaps the courts should follow the advice of GOP lawyer Thomas Farr.  Farr argued in December that the Supreme Court should overrule the lower court ruling that called for 2017 elections.

But 15 years ago he was on the other side, urging the state Supreme Court to dramatically change the election schedule for the General Assembly because he said—as the Southern Coalition for Social Justice points out—“it was paramount to correct the irreparable harm that flowed to plaintiffs in that case from being in districts that violated the state constitution.”

Correcting the irreparable harm was paramount then and it is paramount now. And that would be something to celebrate.

Commentary

Bitter Pat McCrory still struggling with the facts

Former Gov. Pat McCrory is apparently still struggling to accept his defeat last fall to Roy Cooper. And he is still struggling with the facts too, something that often plagued him during his term as governor.

McCrory addressed the NCGOP convention Saturday. The News & Observer has the rundown of his irresponsible accusations and absurd comments.

His remarks calling for a new photo ID voter law prompted national coverage as the battle in the courts over voter suppression continues.

This paragraph in the N&O story is quintessential and maddening McCrory.

I know for a fact that we had a lot of noncitizens that were voting,” McCrory said. “Ladies and gentlemen, voter ID would have stopped it. Keep it a clean bill, stay with a voter ID law and get that passed.”

A recent audit by the State Board of Elections found 41 noncitizens who cast ballots. They were legal residents who had successfully registered to vote. An ID requirement likely wouldn’t have stopped them.

No, a photo ID voter law would not have stopped the legal residents from voting. But McCrory can’t let the facts get in the way. And in case you forgot, he lost the election by more than 10,000 votes, not 41.

Commentary, News

Good news: Sen. Burr not optimistic about ACA replacement this year

North Carolina Senator Richard Burr is making national news today with comments he made to WXII 12 News about the chances that the Senate will approve health care legislation this year to replace the Affordable Care Act.

Burr said he “doesn’t see a comprehensive health care plan this year”  and said the House bill that the CBO says will increase the number of people without insurance by 23 million is “dead on arrival” in the Senate.

The Wall Street Journal was the first national outlet to pick up on the comments, which were cited in the Talking Points Memo article.

Let’s hope Burr is right. He has plenty to work on anyway with the Russia investigation in his role as the Chair of the Senate Intelligence Committee.