Gun safety advocates gather at General Assembly, call for saner public policies

2-5inch-WearOrange-StickersAdvocates representing North Carolinians Against Gun Violence, Moms Demand Action for Gun Sense in America, Moms Rising, the N.C. Council of Churches and a bevy of other advocacy groups gathered with several lawmakers at the state Legislative Building today to observe National Gun Violence Awareness day. Bedecked in orange clothing, ribbons and stickers (the color favored by hunters looking to promote gun safety) the advocates told multiple stories of senseless tragedies brought about by lax gun safety policies and asked public officials at all levels to enter into a dialogue about how to prevent them in the future.

Floyd mcKissick

Sen . Floyd McKissick

Senator Floyd McKissick, who will headline next Monday’s N.C. Policy Watch Crucial Conversation on the subject, was particularly eloquent in lamenting the seemingly endless list of mass shootings in the United States that have become an almost daily occurrence and in challenging his fellow elected officials to do more about it. McKissick was joined by several other state lawmakers including House Minority Leader Larry Hall, and Representatives Pricey Harrison, Garland Pierce, Jean Farmer-Butterfield, Verla Insko, Duane Hall and Paul Luebke.

In general, there was more of a positive, “can-do” attitude evident at the event than one might have seen even a year or two ago. Perhaps it’s just practice and repetition, but one gets the sense that gun safety advocates are getting better and more effective at making their case and that a real sense of optimism has crept into the movement and that turning the national tide on the issue is a real possibility.

This is from the NCGV release:

NCGV press conf.

NCGV Director Becky Ceartas

“We are here with a shared sense of crisis around the gun violence ravaging too many North Carolina families and neighborhoods, and disproportionally impacting communities of color,” Rep. Pricey Harrison said. “We’re standing together to demand meaningful solutions that make our streets safer.”

National Gun Violence Awareness Day honors the lives of the more than 90 Americans killed daily and the hundreds more who are injured by gun violence every day. In the last ten years (2001-2010), 11,102 people have been killed by guns in North Carolina. People nationwide also wore orange and used the hashtag #WearOrange in social media to show their support for common sense solutions to the gun violence that takes so many lives.

Effie Steele

Effie Steele

In 2007, Effie Steele’s 21-year-old daughter Ebony Robinson, who was nine months pregnant, was murdered (along with her unborn son, Elijah) by Elijah’s father. “Thanks to everyone taking action today to bring attention to the number of lives we are losing to gun violence every week” Steele said during the press conference. “Your standing for peace and love and against killing, shooting and violence will make a difference.”

This month also marks the one-year anniversary of the Charleston church shootings, in which nine bible study attendees were murdered by a young white supremacist at the Emanuel African Methodist Episcopal Church. The Reverend Dr. Jennifer Copeland, Executive Director with the NC Council of Churches, noted, “Beyond the seminal witness of the Prince of Peace, whom Christians profess to follow, is the long standing confession of the prophets reminding us not to put our trust in false idols. Guns are the idol we worship in the misguided pursuit of safety.  The statistics bear out that guns do not keep us safe; that, in fact, they make us and those we love less safe.”

Click here for more information on next Monday’s luncheon: “A year after the Charleston tragedy: Growing hope for saner anti-gun violence policies.”  Some seats remain available.

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