The Daily Tar Heel

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Monday May 16th

Gun control legislation unlikely to be considered

“My hope is that they will bring it up for a vote in North Carolina as a means of protecting folks who want to go to school, go to work, go out and have a good time with family and friends and not have the specter of someone who shouldn’t have a gun being able to go out and commit heinous acts,” said Matt Hughes, former chair of the Orange County Democrats.

The proposed legislation would be similar to bills that Democrats in the U.S. House have attempted to bring to the floor, denying anyone on the federal Terrorist Watchlist the right to purchase a firearm. Many, like North Carolina Rep. Verla Insko, D-56, support this view.

“I think that there are some due process issues, but I believe that they can be addressed, and I think that it is a reasonable step,” Insko said. “I think that if you can’t be trusted to have a plane ticket, you shouldn’t be trusted to have a gun, but I do understand the due process issues.”

Critics of the Terrorist Watchlist say its broad, vague criteria and use of secret evidence punishes law-abiding citizens in addition to those who have shown the potential to cause harm. Proponents of using the list argue that an administrative appeals process would be effective in allowing those wrongly restricted to pursue their right to own a firearm.

“It would be handled on appeals where there would be a review, which is cumbersome but adequate given the increasing gun violence and gun terrorism in the United States,” Insko said.

Regardless of the technicalities, the measure has little potential, said Insko. Deadlines for introducing most substantive legislation have passed, and while it is possible to bring new measures to a vote by amending existing bills, that method is primarily reserved for the chamber’s leadership. Republicans outnumber Democrats 34-16 in the N.C. Senate.

“It only has potential to allow for a debate,” Insko said. “The Republican-heavy supermajority in both the House and the Senate doesn’t need Democrats to do anything, and Democrats cannot stop anything. They are a united caucus, and in the Senate I suspect that they are uniformly opposed to any control on guns.”

Also, with lawmakers in the process of working toward closing down this year’s legislative session, there is little chance for consideration of such a controversial and still quite speculative proposal.

“I applaud his efforts to move the bill, but the logistics of a short session just aren’t conducive to its passage (in time),” Rep. Pricey Harrison, D-57, said.

Many agree that a shift in power in the state legislature will be necessary for any substantive changes in gun legislation to take place.

“So much is dependent upon legislation,” Hughes said. “In North Carolina, we don’t have the ability to get a ballot referendum on the November ballot to have this done by the voters, and I’m not sure that the courts could be used for this, so it really comes down to electing leaders in North Carolina that are going to take this seriously.”

Insko believes it may be after 2020 before N.C. legislators make significant changes to gun control legislation. Multiple factors will play into this, including whether a Democrat is elected as governor and if a majority of Democrats are elected in either chamber. The way the districts are redrawn in 2020 may also play a role.

“It’s not going to happen any time soon, but a lot of these issues take a long time,” Insko said. “It took a long time for the Civil Rights Acts to pass after slavery ended. We’ve been working on healthcare for all since President Roosevelt tried to get it passed. Big, controversial issues take a long time, and it usually has to do with money and power, not right or wrong.”


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