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NCGA Republicans refuse to even consider commonsense gun laws

by Victoria Gordon

Two more mass shootings in El Paso, TX, and Dayton, Ohio, over the weekend brought into sharp relief the failure of North Carolina Republicans to make commonsense changes to gun laws. Democrats filed two such bills this session, but Republicans refuse to allow votes on both. Instead of working to guarantee all North Carolinians can shop, worship, or simply exist without fear of being shot, Republicans have prioritized staying in the pocket of the NRA. The NRA is notorious for working hard to stifle gun violence research and has a rich history of supporting NC Republicans in order to influence policy.

Republicans refused to even hold a vote on commonsense gun safety measures. 

H86, the Gun Violence Protection Act, a bill introduced by 18 House Democrats, would have created several commonsense gun safety measures, but the bill remains stuck in committee. H86 would have required a permit to purchase an assault weapon or long gun, imposed a 72-hour wait period before being allowed to possess a gun after buying one, prohibited the sale of an assault weapon or long gun to those under a certain age, and prohibited sale or possession of bump stocks or trigger cranks among other gun safety regulations. Studies suggest waiting periods decrease both suicide and homicide rates. 

Republicans refused to give judges more discretion in removing guns from criminal defendants deemed threats to themselves or others to protect children and families at risk of domestic violence.

H454, a bill introduced by 31 House Democrats, is also stuck in committee. Similar laws are currently on the books in 15 other states while 21 states have taken some steps toward adopting this common sense reform. Meanwhile, North Carolina Republicans refuse to debate the issue. A 2018 poll found that 85 percent of registered voters support legislation that would allow a court to intervene when someone shows signs of violence. This is not the first time Democrats have proposed a red flag law in NC and been ignored by Republicans. Rep. Marcia Morey’s 2018 attempt was also voted down by Republicans.

Gov. Cooper and other NC Democrats are petitioning to hold a vote on these commonsense safety measures.

Gov. Cooper encouraged legislators to consider both bills quickly, but as past experience shows, Republicans continue to claim thoughts and prayers are sufficient, succumbing to the NRA’s extremism. Meanwhile, Reps Christy Clark, Marcia Morey, Pricey Harrison, and Shelly Willingham filed a discharge petition to pry H86 out of committee. In addition to all of the House Democrats, six House Republicans need to sign the petition to force a vote on the bill. 

Sadly, that seems unlikely as Republicans in the NCGA remain indentured to the NRA, choosing to side with extremists rather than with their own constituents.