As if we need to be reminded of the preponderance of guns and gun-related violence on our streets, we’ve had served up for us in the closing days before the midterm elections the deadliest attack on the Jewish community in this nation’s history. A lone gunman on Oct. 27 shot and killed 11 Sabbath worshippers at the Tree of Life Synagogue in Pittsburgh.
Closer to home, a hallway brawl on Oct. 29 turned into a gun death in a Charlotte suburb high school.
There is so much wrong with both of these stories. A legally purchased, military-style AR-15 rifle was among the semi-automatic weapons used in the Pittsburgh scenario. Some, including President Trump, have suggested that congregants themselves be armed for self-protection, but that would provide only a false sense of security. Removing weapons patterned after those used by the armed forces in wartime from the hands of the public is a better alternative.
Yes, it’s true that an old Remington shotgun can still do some damage if an angry anti-Semite decides to act out his frustration, but he won’t kill as many people as quickly and he probably won’t have the chance to shoot a police officer.
And when two students are not getting along at school, settling the argument with guns is absurd. If bullying was part of the equation at Butler High School in Matthews, as some reports say, that shouldn’t make any difference.
Guns exponentially raise the stakes amid episodes of school violence that unfortunately can occur. No teacher can intervene to break up a gun fight. And neither student at Butler High will ever have the chance to repair this breach. One is now dead, the other faces first-degree murder charges. And he is sixteen!
He never should have had the gun. If he stole it, as some reports say, the person from whom he stole should be charged as an accessory to the crime for being negligent. With power, the power to own a gun, comes great responsibility — the responsibility to secure the weapon. We have gun locks for that. North Carolinians Against Gun Violence will give you one. For free.
Meanwhile, we have elected officials who refuse to see the insanity of this situation. Many of them want to put more guns in more hands, as if we can all defend ourselves if we can all pull out our own gun and shoot the person who is shooting at us. Really?
One colloquial definition of insanity is doing the same thing while expecting different results. Weakening or repealing the few sensible gun laws we have to allow more guns into the public square will not provide a different result. It is truly insane. Still, we continue to elect people who refuse to try something different.
In 2017 the North Carolina House voted on House Bill 746, the permitless carry bill. This bill would allow people as young as 18 with no training or background check to carry a hidden, loaded weapon in public. In effect, it would allow 18-year-olds to carry a backpack full of guns. Eight Republican House members and all of the Democrats voted against it. The state Senate never took up the bill. Those who voted against this bill in the House did good work — something to remember on Election Day. Look them up here.
Also in 2017, The General Assembly had a bill that would have allowed guns on UNC system and community college campuses — heightening, not reducing, campus dangers. Another bill would have gotten rid of our pistol purchase permitting system. This system has been proven to save lives since you have to get a permit for handguns no matter where you buy your gun. This type of law has been in effect for a while in Connecticut and has decreased gun homicides by 40 percent. In contrast, Missouri repealed a similar law and its gun homicide rate went up by 25 percent.
These two bills were never brought up for a vote because of citizen activism and direct lobbying. We can make sure they never come up again by electing representatives who are willing to try something different.