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Back away from stun gun for teachers bill

Here’s a stunner – or maybe not. Three N.C. lawmakers filed a bill last week to allow school personnel to carry and use stun guns – including Tasers – at school. One of the legislators, Rep. Bobbie Richardson, D-Franklin, quickly backed away from it, though, telling N.C. Policy Watch that she planned to have her name removed from the bill because the language of the proposal could be construed, she says, as allowing school personnel to carry any weapon including guns.

Of course, other N.C. lawmakers are already pushing that bad idea.

The stun-gun bill is also sponsored by Reps. Dennis Riddell, R-Alamance, and Jason Saine, R-Lincoln. It would require training by the Department of Public Instruction, and a $200,000 appropriation to implement.

Lawmakers might want to hit the pause button on this idea and talk to the Charlotte-Mecklenburg Police Department.

Even with law enforcement training – better training than the Department of Public Instruction can provide for gun training, we’d wager – they’ve had some trouble getting Taser use right. A teen died after an officer used a Taser on him at a grocery store in 2008. A 21-year-old died in 2011 after officers tased him at a light rail. Both deaths prompted lawsuits. A jury awarded the family in the teen’s death $10 million, an award against the makers of the Taser. The city admitted no wrongdoing but settled out of court for $625,000. The lawsuits faulted training.

The possibilities for expensive, unwise, even tragic, decisions are high with this plan. The idea is bad. Drop it.

The sausage-makers are different this session

The N.C. Center for Public Policy Research, a nonpartisan think tank, released some intriguing data about the 2013-2014 N.C. General Assembly last week. It’s been well-reported that Republicans control both the governor’s office and both houses of the legislature. That historic change swept away decades of dominance by Democrats.

But there are other noteworthy changes as well. Law as a profession among lawmakers has declined. More legislators have business backgrounds.

More also come with local government experience, something more common years earlier. That local government experience might partially explain all the state meddling in local government affairs this session. Charlotte is feeling the sting as state leaders have introduced bills to seize Charlotte-Douglas International Airport from the city and turn it over to an independent regional authority. But, as the Center points out, other cities getting it as well: Greensboro and Raleigh, as lawmakers push changing school board terms and district boundaries; Asheville, as legislators try to set up an independent authority for its water system.

And this session, a slew of constitutional amendments have been proposed for conservative issues. They range from preventing some government eminent domain powers to limiting restrictions on concealed gun carry permits to sticking anti-union provisions in the constitution.

All this plus record numbers of first-time legislators is making for interesting, but too often problematic, lawmaking.

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