Taking a page from Joe Biden’s anti-gun playbook, Democratic lawmakers in North Carolina are using last week’s murder of five people in a Raleigh neighborhood to demand their Republican colleagues get on board and support new gun control legislation, despite the fact that police have been tight-lipped to date about the type of weapons used in the shooting or how the 15-year old suspect was able to obtain them.
The Raleigh police are expected to release at least some details of their investigation on Thursday, but that’s apparently too long to wait for Democrats like Senate Minority Leader Dan Blue, who lives in the Hedingham neighborhood where the shootings took place. At a news conference on Tuesday Blue declared that gun control “is an issue that transcends party,” calling it a matter of safety while remaining mum about any specific piece of legislation that he believes could have prevented the attack from taking place.
Republicans, meanwhile, say the police investigation should at least be allowed to take place before lawmakers start demanding a response that requires restricting the rights of responsible North Carolinians.
House Speaker Tim Moore, a Cleveland County Republican, said in a statement later Tuesday that lawmakers for now “should remain focused on praying for the victims’ families and supporting law enforcement rather than seizing the moment for a political debate.”
“We need to allow law enforcement to complete their investigation before jumping to any conclusions about policy changes,” Moore added.
Some Democratic legislative proposals stand little chance of passage when lawmakers reconvene later this year or in the new session in January. They include background checks for all gun sales and barring people under 21 from owning assault-style weapons.
Democratic speakers said Tuesday that they were hopeful for bipartisan support on expanding further mental health services for young people, including those through schools. The two-year state budget approved in late 2021 provided funds for schools to hire the equivalent of 115 additional school psychologists. Blue said the school psychologist-to-student ratio in public schools remains low.
Democrats believe there is some Republican interest in creating a legal process for the removal of firearms from someone believed to be an extreme risk of harming themselves or others. Sweeping gun violence prevention legislation passed by Congress with support of some Republicans following the Uvalde shootings provides grants to states that initiate what also are known as “red flag” laws.
“I think I am starting to hear more willingness by others to engage in conversation,” said Rep. Marcia Morey, a Durham County Democrat. She acknowledged later that such a legal process wouldn’t apply to juveniles, but other laws could be implemented to discourage gun access for youth.
Like what, exactly? It’s already illegal for juveniles to carry a firearm in North Carolina, and it’s also a misdemeanor offense to allow a juvenile access to a firearm of any kind if they use it in the commission of a crime. As Morey herself acknowledged, a “red flag” law wouldn’t apply to juveniles, so what specific policy is she calling for that she believes would have prevented this teenager from carrying out his murderous attack?
Not only are they not willing to wait for the facts, these politicians don’t have any real answers; only accusations that their political opponents are unconcerned or uncaring about violent crime if they don’t wholeheartedly embrace their gun control demands. But when they issue their calls for gun control before knowing even the most rudimentary details of how this teenage suspect acquired his weapons, it’s clear that these politicians aren’t truly trying to respond to the shooting in Raleigh; they’re trying to exploit it instead.