GunsIn case you missed it, North Carolina legislators produced another one of their inimitable, you-can’t-make-this-stuff-up moments yesterday. On the very same day that a disturbed and self-described Neo-Nazi confessed to shooting and murdering an innocent Wayne County Community College employee in cold blood earlier this week, House members defeated a bipartisan proposal that would have given law enforcement officials limited authority to destroy the gun he used to commit the crime if and when he is ultimately convicted.

Right now, in North Carolina, gun buyers and sellers are often free to obtain and re-sell weapons that were used to murder innocent people as state officials are, bizarrely, forbidden from destroying them in most circumstances. As the sponsor of the bill, Republican Representative Ted Davis of New Hanover County, noted in debate, families of murder victims can, under current law, be forced to see the weapons that killed their loved ones turn up for sale on eBay. Indeed, it’s quite likely there is nothing to prevent a dealer from ultimately obtaining the gun Kenneth Stancil used in Wayne County and touting its past use as proof of its effectiveness!

As Rep. Darren Jackson explained, the proposal was brought to the General Assembly by the District Attorney of Gaston County on behalf of law enforcement officers and court officials in his district as one small thing that state officials could do help provide a bit of peace of mind to people who put their lives on the line every day to protect the citizenry and who don’t want to see the weapons used by criminals back out “on the street.”

Amazingly, though, Davis’ and Jackson’s common sense arguments fell largely on deaf ears as the House defeated the proposal 63-50. Click here to see how your lawmaker voted.

In helping to defeat he bill, opponents like Rep. Jay Adams and Rep. Charles McGrady spoke in defense of the poor, defenseless and innocent weapons. Read More


092210_1218_Soberinggun1.jpgIt’s a sad commentary that such action would even be necessary, but the folks at North Carolinians Against Gun Violence have launched a petition in which they call on caring and thinking people to join them in opposing legislation that would force deadly weapons into even more hands and safe places than they’re already allowed in our gun-crazy state.

Here’s the text:

Dear North Carolina General Assembly and Governor,

The undersigned North Carolinians voice their strong opposition to provisions in HB 562 that put residents of our our state in grave danger by expanding the kinds of places where guns are allowed and removing the pistol permitting system.

The pistol permitting system has been North Carolina’s solution to a federal exemption that allows private dealers to sell a gun without performing a background check. We are one of 17 states that have require all dealers, including private ones, to perform a background check. In states like ours that require background checks for private handgun sales:

  • 46 percent fewer women are shot to death by their intimate partners
  • There are 48 percent fewer firearm suicides, while the rates of suicide methods are nearly identical
  • There are 17 percent fewer firearm aggravated assaults
  • 48 percent fewer law enforcement are shot to death with handguns

By eliminating this successful permitting system, requiring arduous requirements for gun free signs, requiring employers to allow employees to secure a handgun in their vehicle at work, allowing concealed carry by people who are in locked cars at schools, and allowing guns at the N.C. State Fair everywhere but on rides, this bill makes our state less safe for all of us.

We urge you to oppose these provisions.


Click here to learn more.


(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


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


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.