The North Carolina Influencer Series

You asked what to do about gun violence. Now the NC Influencers offer some solutions.

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The North Carolina Influencer series

The Charlotte Observer, The News & Observer and The Herald-Sun in Durham are launching a conversation between readers and important thought leaders throughout North Carolina.

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Using the Your Voice tool, we asked readers what questions they had about criminal justice issues in North Carolina. Here’s the question they wanted us to ask the NC Influencers: “What reasonable gun laws could be adopted that would actually help reduce gun crime?”

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Here is a sampling of responses from the Influencers:

Paul Valone, President, Grass Roots North Carolina

“No changes except to loosen restrictions on lawful concealed carry. I defy anyone to find a serious, methodologically sound study showing that any gun law reduces violent crime. The National Academy of Sciences, in a literature review a few years ago, could not. Moreover, I reject the phrase “gun crime.” Is it better when homicide victims are killed by baseball bats or knives? The objective should be to reduce crime, regardless of the implement used by the offender.”

Paul Valone

Dr. Laura Gerald, President, Kate B. Reynolds Charitable Trust

“Gun violence should be treated as a public health crisis and addressed through a multi-pronged approach with multiple solutions, including banning access to assault guns and limiting access for people experiencing mental health crises.”

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Dr. Laura Gerald

James Coleman, Duke Law School professor, Co-director of the Wrongful Convictions Clinic at Duke

“Confine guns to the places where they are legitimately used. Keep them off the streets and increase the punishment for possession in public spaces. Having open carry laws and allowing guns in public places simply normalizes conduct that feels threatening to most people. Gun control should be a public health issue, not a political issue to be exploited. We need public officials willing to risk their public careers to pursue policies that offer the hope of reducing the menace of guns. Instead, we have many officials who are thinking primarily about the next office available to them and what they need to do not to screw up the opportunity for a promotion.”

Mike Rizer, Executive Vice President and Head of Community Relations at Wells Fargo

“Outlaw bump stocks, military-type weapons, online sales that reduce ability to know the buyer. Stricter enforcement of existing laws that should prevent sales to criminals, those with mental illness. None of these steps would compromise the ability of hunters or even persons who have handguns. However, the right to safety of the general public outweighs the ability for anyone to buy a gun virtually anywhere at any time.”

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Mike Rizer

Que Tucker, Commissioner, North Carolina High School Athletic Association

“Outlaw weapons of mass destruction. It seems that if NC wanted to avoid what bordering states have dealt with, that would have been a constitutional amendment, instead of the ones we are dealing with.”

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Que Tucker

Richard Sneed, Principal Chief, Eastern Band of the Cherokee

“No changes are necessary.”

Hugh McColl, retired Bank of America CEO

“We should outlaw all automatic weapons.”

Bob Page, CEO Replacements, Ltd.

“We should perform background checks that screen for mental health red flags as well as criminal records and eliminate the sale of bump stocks and military assault rifles.”

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Bob Page

Mark Jewell, President, North Carolina Association of Educators

“My focus is on making sure our schools are safe. Common sense proposals to ban automatic weapons make the most sense. These weapons of war should not be in our communities or schools. We should also consider other common sense proposals like the elimination of bump stocks and allowing a judge to order the temporary surrender of weapons if a person is a physical threat to themselves or others.”

Bishop Claude Alexander, Senior Pastor, The Park Church

“I believe that fully automatic weaponry should be limited to law enforcement and military personnel. I believe that clips should be limited (to) 15 rounds. I believe that the bump stock should be illegal.”

Bishop Claude Alexander

Michael Marsicano, President and CEO, Foundation For The Carolinas

“Sufficiently long enough waiting periods that enable highly robust background checks. Banning assault weapons and any mechanisms that turn guns into assault-like weapons. Banning 3D printing of guns. This is where I would begin, but would go much further thereafter.”

Brooks Bell, CEO Brooks Bell, Inc.

“We need to increase the amount of effort it should take to get a gun. Gun owners need to be more fully vetted than they are today.”

Bev Perdue. Governor 2009-2013; Founder of digiLEARN

“I believe in the Second Amendment. I am a hunter and a supporter of gun rights. But, no one needs the weapons now available for purchase. We need strong registration and purchase requirements for gun ownership.”

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Bev Perdue

Mike Easley, Governor 2001-2009

“I would start with eliminating assault weapons.”

Gov. Jim Martin, Governor 1985-19993

“1. Urgently enforce the laws we have to punish severely those who commit a crime with a lethal weapon of any kind. 2. Apply same requirements and restraints on sales at gun shows as at retail stores.”

Pat McCrory, Governor 2013-2017, Charlotte mayor 1995-2009

“Before we enact any new laws we need to vigorously enforce laws currently on the books.”

Astrid Chirinos, Executive Director, Simmons YMCA

“A ‘shared vision,’ not politicized, is what is really needed.”

Mark Vitner, Senior Economist, Wells Fargo

“Better enforcement of current gun laws might be more impactful than passing new laws. What is the punishment for possession of an illegal firearm today? Does it provide a meaningful deterrent? Absolutely not. Passing more laws but not providing any meaningful consequences for violating those laws will not provide any meaningful results.”

Liz Chen, Co-Founder of MyHealthEd

“Gun laws need to change but we should not arm teachers. As a former high school teacher, I would have felt less safe in my classroom simply knowing that there were more guns in the school building that others could access. Today, I am the wife of a school administrator and my views are the same: more guns will not be the solution to gun violence.

“ I agree with other public health and policy experts that getting a gun permit is easier than getting a driver’s permit. Right now, it is. Today, North Carolinians are required to take a driver’s ed course, pass a written road safety test, pass a vision exam, and pay a fee in order to get a driver’s permit. You get your picture taken for your permit and then you must wait at least six months before scheduling your road test. Then, you need to pass the road test in order to earn your license. What would it look like if everyone who wanted to buy and use a gun went through basic firearm training and had to pass a written test to obtain a permit, and then was expected to train further in order to pass some sort of gun safety/firearm use test before officially obtaining a license?

“Also, back in 2013, President Barack Obama pointed out that smart phones already have the capability to unlock at the touch of a specific fingerprint and asked why similar technology did not yet exist for guns. This technology will be lifesaving.”

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Liz Chen

Catherine Lawson, attorney, started the #meAt14 campaign

“There is little evidence proving or disproving the efficacy of specific policies at reducing gun violence. But laws supporting responsible gun ownership should be encouraged, such as proper training and storage requirements, and preventing criminals and people with violent records from owning guns. Keeping guns out of the hands of dangerous persons is more likely to accomplish the goal of reducing gun violence than creating categories of guns people can and cannot own.”

Pamela Davies, President Queens University of Charlotte

“Reduce access to automatic and other dangerous weapons and possibly raise the age limits to acquire guns.”

Frank Emory, law partner, Chairman of the Economic Development Partnership of North Carolina

“There is no easy solution here. Some say that requiring registration of handguns and certain rifles and banning high-capacity magazine assault rifles is reasonable. Others feel that any regulation or registration is a step too far. My view is that given the lethality of high-capacity weapons, at least restriction by registration of those weapons will help to avoid mass shootings of the type seen recently. Indeed, the lawmakers who oppose this idea seem comfortable banning them from their own workplaces.”

Richard Vinroot, law partner, Charlotte mayor 1991-1995

“Two things: First, better regulate the purchase of firearms - to prohibit people with criminal records and mental disorders from (purchasing firearms). Second, eliminate the sale of “rapid fire” weapons altogether.”

Larry Wooten, President, NC Farm Bureau

“There should be stricter and more extensive background investigations, as well as longer waiting periods to acquire firearms. We should have a discussion on person-to-person sales of firearms as well.”

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Larry Wooten

Walter Dalton, President, Isothermal Community College; Lt. Governor, 2009-2013

“Two issues which can get out of control are the 3D printing of guns and the sale and use of bump stocks to modify existing weapons. Policymakers need to examine these issues and take appropriate action.

“Kudos to Dicks Sporting Goods and Walmart for self regulation and banning the sale of the AR 15.”

Thomas Stith, Former Chief of Staff under Gov. Pat McCrory

“There is general consensus that items such as bump stocks should not be available to the public. Other items such as enhanced background checks that address mental readiness for weapon ownership have merit as well. Unfortunately, the individuals who commit acts of violence with guns will probably continue to do so regardless of existing or proposed legislation. It is the charge of public officials to minimize the threat in our communities as much as possible.”

Thomas Stith

Webb Hubbell, author, former Clinton administration member

“(Adopt) holding periods before purchase is allowed. Eliminate sale of assault weapons. Require safety training classes before purchase of any gun.”

How to participate

Your Voice is an ongoing conversation between readers, the 60 NC Influencers, and policy makers in our state. From now until Election Day we’re asking readers what matters most to them about a particular policy issue. After readers weigh in online each week, we’ll hold a Your Voice vote to see which reader’s response resonates most. Then, we’ll put that question to the NC Influencers. To participate just click on the Your Voice link embedded in every Influencer series story.

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