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As NC marks National Gun Violence Awareness Day, gun reform faces an uncertain future in Congress.

 

On Friday, Governor Roy Cooper joined others in recognizing June 3rd as National Gun Violence Awareness Day, an effort to raise awareness and remember the lives lost to gun violence.

North Carolina has the 17th highest rate of gun deaths in the nation. In 2020 there were 1,699 firearm related deaths in our state, according to North Carolinians Against Gun Violence.

“We cannot forget these tragedies when they fade from the news,” said Governor Cooper in a release. “It’s past time for common sense reforms that must take place at the congressional and legislative levels – stronger background checks, red flag laws, banning assault weapons and community violence interventions so that we can prevent these horrific events.”

But despite the recent mass shootings in Buffalo, Uvalde, and Tulsa, getting lawmakers to agree on an approach to reducing gun violence may be difficult.

During Thursday’s U.S. House Judiciary Committee meeting, North Carolina Republican Congressman Dan Bishop (NC-09) balked at raising the age of purchasing semiautomatic rifles from 18 to 21.  He also rejected efforts to ban high capacity magazines.

“What are you willing to do to stop the epidemic of gun violence in this country?” Rep. Mondaire Jones, a New York Democrat, asked Bishop.

“I wouldn’t let teachers prop doors open. I would make sure police are not discouraged from going in and saving children who are being assaulted, while the assault is going on,” Bishop said, referencing the Uvalde massacre that left 19 children and two teachers dead at the hands of an 18-year-old.

“I can translate that for you, he’s willing to do nothing,” responded Rep. Sheila Jackson Lee, a Texas Democrat.

Watch that heated exchange below:

The gun control package advanced along a party-line vote, 25-19, and is expected to be on the House floor next week. In an evenly divided Senate, it’s widely expected Republicans would block most gun control measures. That has some Democrats again calling for an end to the filibuster.

Back in Raleigh, Gov. Cooper’s budget proposal for FY 2022-23 provides $38.7 million to enhance community and school safety.

The spending plan also includes $2.5 million in recurring funds for violence education and prevention programs for at risk and juvenile justice-involved youth and $1 million for the purchase of gun locks.

Safe storage is one area where local officials are hoping to find common ground. Officials in Durham County pulled together this week to distribute more than 200 gun locks in their community.

The North Carolina Child Fatality Task Force is also encouraging legislators to fund a statewide firearm safe storage education and awareness initiative. The task force estimates that modest proposal would cost a minimum of $155,000 in nonrecurring funds for a two-year initiative.

This weekend (June 3 – 5) the North Carolina Executive Mansion will be lit orange in honor of Gun Violence Awareness Day. You can read the governor’s proclamation here.

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