“This tragedy that we’re addressing right now is undescribable,” Charleston’s police chief said at a news conference. “No one in this community will ever forget this night. And as a result of that, and because of the pain, and because of the hurt that this individual has caused this community, this entire community, the law enforcement agencies that are working on this are committed — we will catch this individual.”

As news continues to roll in about this apparent hate crime that took a host of lives at Charleston’s Emanuel African Methodist Episcopal Church, that pain will only expand. Actions like this have grievous consequences for years, even generations to come.

Lest we forget, terrorist violence of this nature has a long history of targeting black churches.

When I think of this tragedy and the community’s pain, I think of Michael S. Harper’s short but devastating poem, “American History,” which references Charleston and addressed these themes years before this latest tragedy. All I have to say about the vile motives of the vicious and cowardly man who committed these murders, Harper said better in a few short lines.

My heart breaks for the victims of this tragedy, and I hope we can all take a moment to recognize the pain and loss of a community — while committing ourselves to building a world where this never happens again.



GunsOne of the best op-eds of the weekend came, as usual, from Ned Barnett of Raleigh’s News & Observer who shined a light on some courageous folks who’ve been working to stop the General Assembly’s latest nonsensical push to further the spread of easy guns into every nook and cranny.

In “Code orange in North Carolina for moms v. guns,” Barnett highlights the work of local activists with Moms Demand Action for Gun Sense in America who are slowly, step by step, beginning to turn the state’s gun debate around.

The group’s top objective this year: to stop House Bill 562, the proposal to repeal the state’s successful pistol permitting system and to further loosen the state’s already minimal gun control laws. Happily, as we noted here last Friday, the group seems to be making some headway. Whereas the General Assembly has acted as a rubber stamp for the gun lobby in recent years, this time the votes are very close.

Let’s hope the group succeed this week with its efforts to halt or further water down the gun proposal. It’s currently on the House calendar for tonight. Whatever happens though, the best news is this: the activists moms highlighted Barnett say they’re just getting started:

“Members of the moms group know there’s no repealing the Second Amendment. But they think there’s room to make a difference in the margins. One step is to lobby for laws promoting the safe storage of guns. Four children have already been accidentally shot in North Carolina this year. Another is to protect laws already on the books, such as the sheriffs’ review of pistol permit requests. .

Sarah Green, 36, of Winston-Salem, is a mother of three and the volunteer leader of the North Carolina chapter of the moms group. She said the national organization has responded to the inability to get gun control laws through Congress by focusing on the states. Her hope is that Moms Demand Action for Gun Sense in America can attain the same level of influence achieved by Moms Against Drunk Driving. Green’s group recently posted an interactive map of unintentional shootings involving a person 17 or under.

‘We don’t feel like it’s a futile effort, but we realize this is a marathon, not a sprint,’ Green says. ‘We’re committed. We’re parents. The gun lobby fears losing their guns. We fear losing our children.’”

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


5-11-15-NCPW-cartoon1[This post has been updated.] As explained in the post immediately below, the House Rules Committee was scheduled to take up a bill this morning to further liberalize North Carolina gun laws. Late last night, however, the meeting was, thankfully, cancelled. Greensboro News & Record columnist Susan Ladd explains this morning why the bill “is not designed to ‘protect’ or ‘affirm’ citizens’ Second Amendment rights. It is designed to keep expanding those rights beyond the realm of reason.”

Here is Ladd’s handy summary of what the bill would do in its present form:

• If you’re a business owner and don’t like the idea of your customers packing heat, tough beans. Your only option is to place a large sign in a prominent location notifying customers that weapons are prohibited. But like the right of parlay in “Pirates of the Caribbean, this is more like a guideline than a rule, because violating the notice would no longer be a misdemeanor but simply an infraction.

• Schools would be unable to forbid students and teachers from having guns in their locked vehicles on school grounds. I’m sure that long walk to the car and the laborious process of unlocking it would be sufficient to keep a person bent on violence from using a gun on fellow students or teachers.

• Doctors would be forbidden Read More


GunsAs long as North Carolina is going to regulate guns about as effectively as a broken down banana republic, it might as well pass laws in a similar way.

That’s about the only conclusion that one can draw about the attitudes of the folks running the General Assembly after this afternoon’s announcement by North Carolina House Speaker Tim Moore that the House will press ahead with a new and thus far undisclosed version of controversial gun legislation. Not only did Moore issue an edict that the bill will be taken up in the House Rules Committee tomorrow morning (a committee that’s generally supposed to deal with matters related to managing the affairs of the House rather than substantive matters like gun regulation), he also proclaimed that it would pass the committee and then be voted on on the House floor a few hours later.

Good to know that tomorrow’s committee will be so open and honest.

No word yet on whether Moore will allow anyone other than supporters of the bill to speak at tomorrow kangaroo committee meeting. Given that the outcome has already been decided (as well as past experience in the Judiciary Committee with this dreadful proposal) there seems to be little reason to get one’s hopes up. Those wanting to listen in to the “debate” in committee tomorrow should visit the General Assembly’s audio broadcasts page and click on Committee Room 1228 at 9:00 a.m.