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GunsIt shows you how far off course North Carolina government has strayed in recent years that so many good people are in a celebratory mood this morning after the Senate’s passage last night of legislation to further loosen state gun regulations. The source of the happiness (or at least, the relief), of course, is the fact that the bill has been transformed from the terrifying monster it was a few weeks ago into a junkyard dog. Provisions that would have scrapped the state’s handgun permitting system and limited doctors’ ability to ask patients about guns in the home, for instance, were removed.

That said, the bill remains dangerous and unnecessary. As the good people at North Carolinians Against Gun Violence explained last night:

“The bill loosens gun restrictions by allowing guns in locked cars at the state fairgrounds during the State Fair. It will also allow someone to take a gun out of a locked car on educational property to defend themselves or others against a threatening situation, a role advocates say is better left to law enforcement. Limiting local jurisdiction, the bill weakens municipalities’ ability to determine when and where guns are allowed. It also downgrades carrying a concealed weapon on private property to an infraction.”

In other words, when Gov. McCrory signs the bill into law — as he presumably will — North Carolina will have more killing machines in more places than before.

Whoopee!

So, congratulations to the advocates who helped beat back the original version of the legislation. It was one of the first successes gun safety advocates have had in North Carolina in a long time and a lot of people deserve great credit for their hard and courageous work and important success. Let’s hope, however, that this is just the first baby step for a growing movement that will not just staunch the state’s bleeding, but ultimate;y help heal the wounds brought on by several years of senseless gun deregulation.

Commentary

(This post has been updated — see below).

There’s good news and bad news from the North Carolina Senate today.

The good news is that this is the last day for Senate committees to meet during the 2015 session. Senators will undoubtedly bend this rule in the days to come, but as a general matter, the official end of committees is a good sign that a) the flood of dreadful new laws should slow down at least a little and b) lawmakers are beginning to kinda sorta think about ending this nightmare of a session.

Unfortunately, the bad news is that senators will almost certainly be ramming a bevy of bills through committee today with scarcely any review or public input.

In this troubling vein, check out the agenda for today’s Judiciary II Committee where members are scheduled to review ten — count ’em ten — bills in one meeting that will convene just two hours before the Senate floor session. And to make matters worse, included in this list are two especially problematic proposals that are all about death:

And, of course, to make matters even more worrisome, the Senate has a penchant for adding everything but the kitchen sink to such bills in last minute “committee substitutes.” Thus, for instance, while the Schaffer’s gun bill was significantly watered down prior to passage in the House, it seems entirely plaussible that senators will pull a new version of the bill out of their hats this morning.

(UPDATE: After an absurdly fast-paced and at times, borderline chaotic meeting in which many members of the public were not admitted due to the tiny committee room that was used, both bills were passed by voice votes and now move to the Senate floor.)

Commentary

GunsIt appears that the North Carolina House will continue its return to the hard right policies of the Thom Tillis days this morning when the House Rules Committee, after numerous false starts, takes up the dangerous proposal to further eviscerate state gun safety laws. This is from the good people at North Carolinians Against Gun Violence:

“The Rules Committee will consider one of the most dangerous and controversial pieces of gun legislation in our state on Wednesday at 9am in 1228/1327 LB.

HB 562 eliminates North Carolina’s successful pistol permitting system, which provides background checks for the approximately 40 percent of gun sales that happen through private sellers.

Polls show 87 percent of North Carolinians support the current system, which keeps guns out of the hands of felons, domestic abusers, and others. When they got rid of background checks on unlicensed sellers in Missouri, they saw their handgun homicide rate increase by 25%.

Other controversial provisions include:

  • limiting doctors’ ability to ask about guns in the home and prohibiting them from sharing information about gun possession with law enforcement;
  • instituting arduous requirements for those posting gun-free signs;
  • and allowing people who have been convicted of stalking to get a concealed carry permit after three years.”

For more information and/or to get involved in speaking up on this measure, visit: http://www.ncgv.org.

 

Commentary

Tom JensenOne of the nation’s most respected pollsters — Tom Jensen of Raleigh-based Public Policy Polling — is out with some new and encouraging results from the state of Washington that seem likely to be a harbinger for for the nation.

The bottom line: New laws legalizing marijuana, same sex marriage and toughening gun control are all increasingly popular and seen by voters as no big deal. This is from a release distributed yesterday:

“Over the last couple elections voters in Washington legalized gay marriage and marijuana, and enacted background checks on all gun sales. Our newest poll in the state finds that all three of those new laws are even more popular now after being implemented than they were when voters first approved them.

In 2012 Washingtonians voted to approve gay marriage by 8 points. Now voters in the state say they support gay marriage by 20 points, 56/36. 78% of voters say that its being legal has either had a positive impact on their life or no impact at all, with only 22% claiming gay marriage has affected them negatively. Also 65% of voters in the state think gay conversion therapy should be illegal to only 14% who think it should be allowed. Majorities of voters across party lines- 78/6 with Democrats, 63/14 with independents, and 51/27 with Republicans- think conversion therapy should not be allowed.

Also in 2012 Washingtonians voted to legalize marijuana usage by 12 points. Now voters in the state say they support marijuana being legal by 19 points, 56/37. 77% of voters say marijuana being legal has either had a positive impact on their life or no impact at all, with likewise only 22% claiming marijuana legalization has affected them negatively.

Just last fall Washingtonians voted to legalize background checks on all gun sales by 18 points. Now voters in the state say they support background checks on all gun sales by 44 points, 68/24. 82% of voters in the state say extended background checks have either had a positive or no impact on their lives, while only 18% claim a negative impact. Even among gun owners 78% grant that extended background checks have had no adverse effect on their lives, and they support the policy 61/31.

Washington voters were on the leading edge of legalizing gay marriage, marijuana, and extended background checks. And since those policies went in effect the verdict has been no big deal, leading to their increasing popularity.”

Click here for all of the PPP results.

Commentary
Rep. Jacqueline Schaffer

Rep. Jacqueline Schaffer

The folks running the North Carolina General Assembly may decide to buck public opinion yet again in the coming weeks and force through Rep. Jacqueline Schaffer’s legislation to put killing machines in the hands of more dangerous people, but one gets the sense that the momentum to stop such proposals and preserve some of the state’s remaining modest and common sense gun regulations is growing.

Schaffer’s bill is now drawing national attention as is evidenced by the fine op-ed in this morning’s edition of Raleigh’s News & Observer by Prof. Daniel Webster of Johns Hopkins University entitled “Making it easier for criminal to get guns in NC.” Here’s Webster:

“Research indicates that the proposed changes would lead to more violent crime in North Carolina. A study of legal handgun purchasers in California during the period just before the state barred violent misdemeanants from possessing handguns found that violent misdemeanants were roughly 10 times more likely to be arrested for committing a violent crime after purchasing a handgun than were truly law-abiding purchasers. When California changed its law to prohibit persons convicted of violent misdemeanors from having firearms, the newly prohibited group was much less likely to commit violent crime than individuals with similar criminal histories who legally acquired handguns prior to the change in the law.

If you want to know what happens when a state repeals a law requiring background checks for all handguns sales, you can look to the state of Missouri. Read More