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As today’s Fitzsimon File explains in detail, not a whole lot of good things have happened on either the gun violence or mental health fronts in North Carolina during the two years since the unspeakable tragedy at Sandy Hook Elementary School in Newtown, Connecticut:

“The National Alliance on Mental Illness released a report this week that finds reforms have stalled since Newtown with Congress again failing to pass comprehensive mental health legislation.

Efforts in the states are sputtering as well. The report examines the push to increase funding for mental health programs after the deep cuts made during the Great Recession.  It finds that many states increased mental health funding in 2013 and some managed to invest more in 2014 too, though not nearly as many.

Only six states in the country slashed mental health funding in both 2013 and 2014. North Carolina was one of them.”

Fortunately, there is something you can do about this absurd situation — right away, in fact. This Thursday evening, December 11 at 7:00 p.m., North Carolinians Against Gun Violence will hold a vigil to mark the second anniversary of Newtown and to organize against future tragedies of this kind. Here are the details:

According to recent statistics, there have been at least 91 school shootings, including fatal and nonfatal assaults, suicides, and unintentional shootings, since the tragic assault in Newtown, CT. Since Newtown, there has been nearly one school shooting per week.

On December 11th at 7pm we will be having a candlelit vigil to remember these victims as well as the 60,000 American victims of gun violence since December 2012.

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.

Commentary

GunsDecember marks the two-year anniversary of the unspeakable tragedy at Sandy Hook Elementary School in Newtown, Connecticut. Since that time, there have been 91 additional school shootings in the United States but only very limited progress in passing new laws to help curb gun violence. Recent elections results may, however, herald an encouraging shift. Is there hope that Americans will make progress in 2015 on this challenging and frequently divisive subject?

Please come help us explore this subject with two of North Carolina’s most knowledgeable experts:

Dr. Kristin Goss is an Associate Professor of Public Policy Studies and Political Science at Duke University. Goss is the author of Disarmed: The Missing Movement for Gun Control in America (Princeton University Press, 2006). The book is based on her doctoral study, which won the American Political Science Association’s 2003 Harold D. Lasswell Award for the nation’s best dissertation in policy studies.
Becky Ceartas is the Director of North Carolinians Against Gun Violence – the state’s leading anti-gun violence advocacy group. Becky is a veteran policy advocate who has 13 years of organizing experience with various nonprofits. As a mother of a two year-old son, she was deeply touched by the tragedy in Newtown.

When: Thursday, December 11, at noon — Box lunches will be available at 11:45 a.m.

Where: (**NOTE NEW LOCATION**) Holiday Inn Raleigh Downtown, 320 Hillsborough St. (corner of Dawson and Hillsborough)

Space is limited – pre-registration required.

Cost: $10, admission includes a box lunch.

Click here to register

Questions?? Contact Rob Schofield at 919-861-2065 or rob@ncpolicywatch.com

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

Be sure to check out the newest lead stories on the main NCPW site today:

This morning, N.C. Justice Center Communication Director Jeff Shaw authored a personal and exceedingly rational commentary on the latest outbreak of gun madness in our gun-obsessed culture (which even discusses his own personal experience growing up with firearms).

Meanwhile, in this afternoon’s “lead,” Chris Fitzsimon dissects the misleading claims of a conservative national group with an innocuous-sounding name (i.e. the Tax Foundation) about North Carolina’s “business climate.” As Chris notes:

“It’s not an analysis of how our state is doing at all.

It has little to do with the economy and isn’t even an accurate picture of the taxes businesses and individuals actually pay. And it ignores a long list of factors that business leaders rely on when making their decision about where to locate, from transportation to workforce readiness to quality of life for employees.

The Tax Foundation ranking isn’t any way to evaluate the decisions our leaders have made. It’s a flawed mechanism designed to reinforce an ideological agenda. And it ought to be reported with a little more context.”

Bonus story: Check out yesterday’s “Progressive Voices” entry from NCPW contributor Chavi Koneru about the fast-growing Asian American vote and the perplexing failure of politicians to cultivate it — even in closely-divided states like North Carolina.

Commentary

State Fair cartoonAs has been reported in several places, North Carolina Superior Court Judge Donald Stephens upheld the common sense ban on hidden, loaded handguns at the State Fair yesterday. According to Judge Stephens:

“It would be unwise and imprudent to allow firearms into the State Fair.”

Amen to that. Stephens ruling makes eminent sense for a variety of reasons — the risk of accidents on rides, the enormous, shoulder-to-shoulder crowds on the Midway and the already more-than-adequate presence of law enforcement officials, just to name three.

The decision also figures to be popular with the public. When I went on the conservative Bill LuMaye radio show last Friday to discuss the issue, I was pleasantly surprised to discover that most callers — even self-described concealed carry licensees — thought the Fair an inappropriate venue for firearms.

One thing that the controversy does point out however is this: the law cited by the gun advocates in their lawsuit IS vague. That it even exists in its present form is a testament to the recklessness of the General Assembly and Gov. McCrory in approving it.

Let’s hope that in 2015, legislative leaders and the Guv own up to their mistake in approving the legislation and call for an amendment to specifically ban all hidden weapons at the Fair and other similar venues.