Making a better future for the next generation in North Carolina.

Hope to Stem Gun Violence For The Next Generation

by | Apr 26, 2023 | North Carolina, Public Safety | 1 comment

Every week brings new horrors about senseless injuries and killings with guns. It may be a school shooting in Tennessee, or a boy shot because he knocked on the wrong door in Kansas City. An online service called the Gun Violence Archive had already recorded 13,386 gun violence deaths and 173 mass shootings — defined as 4 or more people shot in a single incident — in the first 115 days of 2023. At that rate, over 42,000 Americans will have lost their lives by guns in 2023.

The media coverage about this carnage is hard to absorb as an adult. Imagine how it must feel to our children to know that someone could walk into their school and start randomly shooting at them and their friends? How must it feel when they have to go through active shooter drills? According to the American Psychological Association the constant news about mass shootings is making our children and grandchildren intensely fearful. Some feel panic and distress while others are going numb.

In this environment, public sentiment has shifted strongly in the direction of tighter controls on who owns guns and how they are used. A poll of NC voters by the GS Strategy Group showed 78% in favor of extreme protection orders and 89% supporting universal background checks.

Hope for change

Democrats in the Michigan Legislature have provided an example of quickly things can change. In the first four months of 2023, they passed three gun control measures on party-line votes. Michigan now has laws mandating safe storage of firearms, universal background checks for gun purchasers, and an extreme risk protection order (“red flag”) law. This last allows courts to order the temporary removal of guns from those who are a danger to themselves or others – with the right of appeal.

I believe that both Republican and Democratic lawmakers can read polls. I also believe they like be re-elected, so I expect that — eventually — both parties will have to respond to the broad based demand to do something about gun violence. Right now, it is Democrats with their control of government in Michigan who have moved to address the issue. Republicans representatives, who control legislation in North Carolina with their super majorities, have yet to come around, but will surely find a way to stay competitive on the issue.

In the long run, both political parties need to come together and support gun safety measures for them to stick. Otherwise, progress can be reversed as political control shifts from one to the other. With hundreds of thousands of new voters coming of age in the next ten years, you would think North Carolina Republican candidates will find a way to be on the popular side of this issue without abandoning their base.

What else needs to be done?

There are states that have achieved much higher levels of gun safety than North Carolina. According to the Centers for Disease Control, North Carolina had a firearm death rate of 17 people per 100,000 and ranked at 31st among states for gun safety. When you look at the top ranked state of Massachusetts with only 3 deaths per 100,000, it is clear we have a long way to go.

Massachusetts may have advantages in education, economy, mental health, and culture — but it also has a robust system of regulation for firearms. Laws do make a difference. Here is a comparison from the Giffords Law Center of how its laws match up with North Carolina’s:

IssueMassachusettsNorth Carolina
Ammunition regulationNone  Teflon-coated bullets not allowed.
Assault weaponsProhibitedNo regulation
Background checksBy FBIFBI for long guns being sold by dealers only
Safe storageRequiredRequired
Concealed carryStrong licensing standardsNo requirements
Design safetyFirearms must meet detailed consumer safety standardsNone
Domestic violence convictions or protection ordersStrict requirements to remove weaponsCourts can order removal of weapons.
Extreme risk protection ordersCourts can order weapons removedNo law
Firearm relinquishmentMust relinquish firearms after a prohibited eventLimited laws

The Giffords Law Center has more detailed information on all of these points. It had not caught up with several of the recent changes in North Carolina law, so I had to update a few of the answers.

Will we get the job done by 2040?

I believe we will end the continual drumbeat of gun violence by the time our children and grandchildren become adults. However, we won’t have the future we want for the next generation unless we work for it. Here is an organization I support to keep the pressure on our legislators. Maybe you could, too.

North Carolinians Against Gun Violence

“For nearly 30 years NCGV has worked as the only statewide non-profit organization dedicated to reducing gun death and injury. According to the CDC, in 2020 1,699 North Carolinians were killed by gun violence. It was the most violent year of the 21st century up by 22% in 2020 over 2019. In North Carolina, almost twice as many kids were killed with a gun in 2020 compared to 2019. More than twice as many North Carolina kids were killed by gun suicide in 2020 as compared to 2019. Gun-related deaths are now the leading cause of death for children.”

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1 Comment

  1. Ben

    It seems like the big issue with gun control is that there’s broad support but it’s not an issue that most people vote based on. On the other side the NRA and other pro-gun groups control a lot of political funding and mobilized activists ready to put pressure on politicians. I agree that when kids who have to go through active shooter drills in school today will hopefully change the laws when they grow up.

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