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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

GunsThe unspeakable tragedy in Chapel Hill this week appears to be causing some important community soul searching about hate crimes and whether the victims were targeted because of their faith. Let’s hope and pray that, in the end, this leads to productive dialogue that further breaks down the walls between people of different religions, races and ethnic backgrounds.

And here’s another thing to hope and pray arises in the aftermath: More thoughtful discussion and dialogue about how our society can take steps to keep troubled souls like Craig Stephen Hicks from accessing and using killing machines.

Surely there’s more that can be done to prevent such future tragedies than simply shaking our heads and arguing that the victims should have been packing weapons for self defense. (Indeed, just imagine the commotion it would cause in many communities if a woman in traditional Muslim attire were seen walking down the street openly carrying a firearm.)

As an editorial in Raleigh’s News & Observer noted this morning:

“As always with such a crime, police and other investigators have to look at firearms involved and whether their ownership was legal. But legal or not, there can be little doubt that the presence of a gun before or during an argument increases the likelihood that tragedy will occur.”

If nothing else, lets hope that this latest college town tragedy spurs a new group of American young people to commit themselves to building a society in which guns and other killing machines become as socially ostracized (and thereby increasingly obsolete) as two other formerly-prevalent tools of death: cigarette smoking and drunk driving.

Commentary
state Sen. Thom Goolsby

Former State Sen. Thomas Goolsby

It’s a testament to just how far we have to go in this state — a place in which innocent people are shot and killed on what seems like an almost daily basis — when reasonably intelligent people write lengthy and celebratory blog posts about the long list of ways in which state lawmakers have made killing machines easier to obtain, brandish and use in recent years.

That’s what former State Senator Thomas Goolsby, a Wilmington criminal defense and personal injury lawyer, did last week on his law firm blog. Goolsby’s overwhelmingly depressing lists (click here and here to view them) were trumpeted yesterday on the soon-to-be-defunct legislative news website of former State Representative Tim Moffitt yesterday (Moffitt was defeated in November and will presumably stop referring to himself as a State Representative shortly).

Moffitt’s post is entitled “Of Interest to Gun Owners.” Lets hope it’s of interest to all caring and thinking North Carolinians — gun owners and non-owners alike — as they come together in the years ahead to begin to rein in this state’s out-of-control gun violence crisis.

Commentary

There were vigils all across the country last night (and there will be more this weekend) for the victims of the Newtown tragedy on its second anniversary, including the one pictured at leftNCGV vigil that took place at the Judea Reform Congregation in Durham.

And while it was a somber affair, there was some good news to share. For instance:

Since Newtown, 99 laws strengthening gun regulations have been passed in 37 states. This includes new laws protecting domestic violence victims in eight states, California’s new “Gun Violence Restraining Order” law, Washington state’s new universal background checks ballot initiative and new comprehensive regulations in Massachusetts.

Evidence also continues to mount that gun safety laws work since states with stronger laws continue to have lower gun death rates than states with weaker laws.

Finally, and perhaps most importantly, public opinion continues to grow in favor of stronger laws. Nine out of 10 Americans now support expanding background checks to cover private sales — this includes 80% of gun owners and 74% of NRA members.

The bottom line: Slowly but surely, the truth is sinking in to Americans that it’s possible (and indeed essential) to craft stronger, smarter laws that protect innocent people without infringing on gun ownership.  NRA bullies may dominate the political playing field in many places (like North Carolina) for the time being, but their days of dominance are numbered.

Commentary

Candlelight-vigilHere’s something that would be worth an hour of your time tonight: North Carolinians Against Gun Violence will hold a vigil tonight at 7:00 p.m. to mark the second anniversary of Newtown and to organize against future tragedies of this kind.Sadly, there have been at least 91 school shootings in the U.S. just since the Newtown tragedy.

Here are the details:

WHEN : December 11, 2014 at 7pm – 8pm

WHERE: Judea Reform Congregation, 1933 W Cornwallis Rd in Durham  – Google map and directions

QUESTIONS? Contact Becky Ceartas  at ncgv@ncgv.org or 919-403-7665

Hope to see you there.