NC Democrat Offers Double Talk on Guns

AP Photo/Michael Conroy, File

North Carolina Attorney General Josh Stein is presenting himself as a defender of "fundamental freedoms" in his bid to become the state's next governor, but when it comes to gun control the Democrat is offering up a whole host of unconstitutional restrictions on our fundamental right to keep and bear arms. 


Stein recently made a campaign appearance at Duke University, where he told student reporters that he's a champion of those fundamental freedoms he holds so dear. 

“[I’m] fighting for you — all North Carolinians — for your fundamental freedoms, whether those are reproductive rights or voting rights,” Stein said. “To be able to do this work has been a great honor for me.”

Is the right to keep and bear arms one of those fundamental freedoms that Stein is fighting for? Nope. It's a fundamental freedom that he's trying to infringe. 

To combat what he referred to as the “scourge of gun violence,” Stein highlighted elements of his education platform, including hiring more school social workers and mental health professionals.

“Kids shouldn’t have to worry when they’re in school, [and] parents shouldn't have to worry about their children when they go to school,” Stein said.

Stein stated that implementing a Red Flag Law, which would allow an individual’s close relatives to petition courts to seize their firearms if there is a threat to public safety, and enacting comprehensive statewide background checks would also prevent guns from getting into the wrong hands.

As far as I can tell Stein didn't touch on so-called assault weapons or demand that he'll bring back the now-repealed pistol purchase permit in his comments at Duke. The AG has weighed in on those topics (and more) in the not-too-distant past, however. In 2022 he told the Fayetteville, North Carolina chapter of the NAACP that the state's Stand Your Ground law is "too loose", while calling for more restrictions on the purchase of modern sporting rifles and the implementation of "universal" background checks. 


“You already have a right to self-defense, no matter where you are, where if somebody is coming at you and you have a reasonable fear for your life, or those of your loved ones, you can take action to defend yourself and stop that threat,” he said.

The revised law, which Stein described as “stand your ground,” says “that you have a presumption that you were justified, rather than having to prove you’re justified. And I think the law is — is too loose, and creates incentives for people to shoot first.”

Yeah, it doesn't make sense to me either, but the answer is to treat 18-year-olds like the adults that they are, not to infantilze young adults. Let them buy a six-pack of beer if they want, or a pack of cigarettes, or an AR-15. Frankly, with the growing number of court decisions that have found gun bans for adults under 21 unconstitutional, North Carolina should be looking at lowering the age to lawfully possess and carry a handgun from 21 to 18 as well. 


As for the state's now-discarded pistol purchase permit law, which was a relic of the Jim Crow era that gave sheriffs the power to subjectively approve or deny handgun purchases, Stein predicted the law's demise would make the state a more dangerous place. 

“We’ve seen this experiment fail in other states. Two years after Missouri’s permit to purchase law was repealed, the firearm homicide rate spiked by 25 percent, and the firearm suicide rate went up by 14 percent. Our job is to do everything in our power to protect the people in our state. This bill would do the opposite – I urge legislators to consider the serious threat to public safety this legislation carries and reject it.”

Well, we're almost three years past repeal. Did Stein's prediction come to pass? Charlotte reported a 10 percent decrease in homicides in 2023, while Rocky Mount reported a decline in violent crime for the third straight year. Wilmington also saw a substantial decline in both homicides and violent crime overall.

Homicides did increase in Wake County, but the local prosecutor is pointing to lengthy court delays as the main cause, not the repeal of the pistol purchase permit statute. 

"We are coming to the end of the third year in a row when we have exceeded more than 50 homicides in Wake County," District Attorney Lorrin Freeman said Monday. "This after decades hovering around 30." A decade ago, there were 24 murders. By 2022, that number jumped to 52. 

"We are concerned with the increase we are seeing," Freeman said, adding that it is difficult for the judicial system to keep up and swiftly bring justice to the families who lost a loved one.

"We have cases well over two years old that need to make it through the system," Freeman said.


In other words, Stein was flat-out wrong about what would happen in North Carolina once the pistol purchase permit law was repealed. 

North Carolina is kind of an odd place, politically. Republicans have large majorities in both chambers of the legislature, but statewide elections are generally close affairs. Donald Trump won the state in 2020, but only with 50.1 percent of the vote. Democrat Gov. Roy Cooper won re-election that same year, but that race too was incredibly close, with Cooper receiving 51.5 percent to Republican Dan Forest's 47 percent. 

Stein can't run as the southern Gavin Newsom or Kathy Hochul when it comes to the Second Amendment and expect to win, in other words. He has to present himself as more of a "moderate" Democrat on gun issues. When it comes to the fundamental freedom to keep and bear arms, however, Stein is anything but middle-of-the-road. 


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