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(UPDATED – See below) There’s not a whole lot of encouraging news Moms Demand Actionemanating from the North Carolina General Assembly these days. Today at 12:30, for example, a House Judiciary committee took up legislation to allow some public servants to refuse to perform their sworn duties when it comes to marrying same-sex couples.

So, it was especially encouraging this morning to see and listen to the group of caring and informed citizens pictured at left who came to the Legislative Building to speak out against the ongoing gun violence epidemic that plagues our state. The group, Moms Demand Action, brought more than two dozen gutsy advocates to the halls of the General Assembly (some of them survivors of gun violence) to deliver cookies to legislative offices and inform state lawmakers that there is a wind shift underway when it comes to public attitudes toward guns.

Where once widespread apathy from average citizens allowed the N.R.A., the gun industry and other extreme pro-gun groups to bully lawmakers into doing whatever they asked without organized opposition, the Moms Demand Action citizen lobbyists informed lawmakers today that things are changing. Indeed, with more than 93,000 members in North Carolina and a growing list of successes around the country, there is every reason to believe that the group has begun the long, slow process of reintroducing a measure of sanity into the state’s gun violence debate.

Moms Demand Action tableThat said, there is certainly a heck of a mess to clean up — one that some lawmakers appear to remain bent on making even worse. Yesterday, in the latest effort to bring killing machines into every conceivable nook and cranny of our society, two Forsyth County House members introduced a “local bill” that would allow private school personnel in their county to bring guns onto campuses.

Moms Demand Action opposes the measure and has added it to its list of action items (along with the current and energetic #GroceriesNotGuns campaign to get Kroger and Harris-Teeter to join the list of responsible companies that ban loaded firearms from their stores). (Note: the original version of this story incorrectly stated that Moms Demand Action had taken no position on the bill).

If you’d like more information, visit www.momsdemandaction.org.

Commentary

2-16-15-NCPW-CARTOONFor my money, the most thoughtful essay to appear in a North Carolina newspaper over the past weekend was authored by Ned Barnett of Raleigh’s News & Observer regarding the senseless triple murder tragedy that rocked Chapel Hill and Carrboro this month. As Barnett highlights in “The hard toll of easy guns,” the saddest part of so many of the stories and commentaries regarding the crime has been the resignation with which we have accepted the notion that the accumulation of weapons caches by mentally disturbed individuals is beyond our ability as a society to address:

“Relatives and friends of the victims are understandably looking for something deeper behind the deaths of their loved ones. And there may well be. But it’s also possible that this was violence without any broader connection, another case of anger, frustration and stress all terribly magnified by a gun.

It’s a haunting idea that we’ve become so inured to gun violence that it must be tied to a larger context to have meaning. Otherwise, it’s just something that happens, like a car accident. No one seems particularly alarmed that Hicks was found to have a dozen firearms in his condominium, including a fully loaded AR-15 Bushmaster, the same military-style rifle used in the Newtown massacre. Maybe if we believe the Chapel Hill shootings involved some sharply focused hatred, we don’t have to think of what might have happened had there been a party with 15 people in a condominium, cars double parked and an angry man at the door with an AR-15.

This is America. Hicks had a right to keep and bear arms, to stockpile arms, to arm himself with rifles designed for combat. He apparently owned the weapons legally. Sane gun laws might prevent the assemblage of these social time bombs. Read More

Commentary

Last year nearly 18,000 people died in the world from terrorism. This was a record high.

That figure includes all deaths by explosives along with every other means terrorists use to commit violence. This statistic also includes the entire world population of 7 billion people. It tracks violence in war zones, failed states and other troubled places where no real government exists, let alone regulations.

From 2000-2010, about 335,000 Americans died from firearms.

That means that the worst ever year for terrorism, which includes all terrorist violence, throughout the entire globe of 7 billion people, cost a little more than half as many lives as guns cost during an average year in one country, which happens to be the richest country in the world and an ostensibly functioning democracy.

I wrote this a few weeks back about why things have to change in America. It doesn’t have to be this way.

Commentary

The website Governing has the basics:

Gov. Jerry Brown signed two bills Tuesday written in response to gun tragedies that shook up Northern California: the Isla Vista shooting rampage by a UC Santa Barbara student and the Sonoma County sheriff’s deputy shooting of a boy with a toy gun.

One new law will allow family and friends of a person who is believed to pose a threat or danger to petition a court to remove the person’s guns. The other law will require toy guns sold in the state to have bright-colored markings so that they are not mistaken for real firearms.

For a more in-depth explanation of the new law to allow gun violence protective orders and the senseless mass murder that inspired it, check out the New York Times story by clicking here.

Let’s hope the new laws spur copycat legislatures around the country ASAP.

Commentary

For a while this morning on WRAL.com, the following three headlines appeared consecutively near the top of the website:

One shot at Stanly County high school
Police in Albemarle report one student has been hurt and another person is in custody after a shooting at Albemarle High School.

Despite clarion call, youth violence continues in Fayetteville
In July, city and county leaders called for an end to youth violence in Fayetteville, but violent incidents involving youth have since continued in the city, including the shooting death of a 16-year-old Saturday night.

Indoor ‘mega’ shooting range coming to Raleigh
When it’s complete, an indoor shooting range in northwest Raleigh will be one of the largest in the nation and will offer more than target practice and guns for sale, the facility’s founder and owner says.

Meanwhile, the rate of fire arm-related deaths in countries like the United Kingdom, Canada, Germany and Japan (where tougher gun laws generally keep deadly firearms better regulated) remain a small fraction of the U.S. rate.