Op-ed: North Carolina has a choice to make on guns

Op-ed: North Carolina has a choice to make on guns
AP Photo/Keith Srakocic

North Carolina is a bit of a strange place when it comes to guns. It’s a southern state with a generally pro-gun, red-state lean to it yet it also has some rather draconian anti-gun measures that date back to Jim Crow.

In fact, a bill to end some of the worst parts of the permitting system ended in defeat earlier this year.

As an op-ed notes, the state will need to figure out which path it wants to go down when it comes to guns.

Few states offer a better microcosm of the U.S. than North Carolina. It’s a perpetual battleground state where neither side can afford to cede any ground. This is increasingly true on the issue of firearms, where little progress is made — whether it be increased gun control or stronger Second Amendment protections. At best, North Carolina is stuck in the muddled middle nationally — where some laws reflect conservative red states and others much bluer areas of the country.

Given the horrific school shooting in Uvalde, Texas, last month, the 2022 mid-term elections may further highlight the national divide on gun laws. Conservative states could expand already strong Second Amendment protections to help blunt mass shooters while blue states beef up trendy gun control measures. Raising the age limits on firearm purchases, expanding red-flag laws, or even banning certain semi-automatic firearms outright are just starting points for those who favor more gun control.

In fact – and especially given that Gov. Roy Cooper embraces strict gun control laws — the state is conceivably one election away from going the direction of California or New York.

It could get much worse for North Carolinians with bills like the 2019 “Gun Violence Protection Act.” In more recent years, some of the measures have been broken into separate bills and introduced in the General Assembly.

The proposed laws require special permits for long guns, mandate liability insurance for gun owners, and allow the destruction of seized guns by law enforcement. Just as concerning, it utilizes the “California Roster of Certified Handguns,” which is an aggressive gun ban because it excludes many firearms from purchase altogether.

So which way will North Carolina fall?

Well, it’s entirely possible it will muddle through like it has been, straddling the line between pro- and anti-gun sides of the debate, but little to nothing actually being accomplished. In fact, I think that’s pretty likely based on what I’ve seen from the state of late.

But what about the aggressive gun control bill mentioned?

Well, it’s a bill. Any member of the legislature can introduce any bill they want. A member in California could introduce a bill throwing out all of the state’s gun control. That doesn’t mean it will go anywhere.

I don’t see this one going anywhere either.

Yet I do think that, at some point, North Carolina is going to have to make a decision. Its indecision won’t hold and they’ll pick a path to venture down.

I’m mighty much afraid that without some aggressive outreach, they’ll go down the gun control route and North Carolinians will end up being screwed in the long run.