Local News

NC cities mark national 'action day' on gun violence

Posted March 28, 2013

— Some North Carolina cities joined cities across the nation Thursday in marking the National Day to Demand Action – a call on Congress to end gun violence, according to Mayors Against Illegal Guns.

The group, a coalition of more than 900 mayors from across the country, worked to host 100 events, circulate petitions and place what it hopes was an unprecedented number of calls to Senate district offices, urging lawmakers to support what they call "common-sense gun laws."

The group's primary goal is for Congress to strengthen the background check system, it said in a news release.

Events were planned in Charlotte, Greensboro, Raleigh and Durham, where family members of victims of gun violence spoke about the need for universal background checks – not only for commercial but for private sales – and stronger penalties for gun trafficking.

Joined by Durham Mayor Bill Bell, Chapel Hill Mayor Mark Kleinschmidt and Morrisville Mayor Jackie Holcombe, Effie Steele told the crowd about the December 2007 death of her 21-year-old daughter, who was three weeks shy of giving birth to a boy when a family friend shot her four times in the chest and left her to die in some woods in Orange County.

"I'm involved in a group I never thought I would ever or never wanted to be a part of," Steele said. "My daughter, Ebony Robinson, and my only grandson, Elijah, were murdered five years ago by someone who should not have been allowed to have a gun, much less his own personal arsenal in his home."

Robinson's killer, Kenneth White, had been molesting her since age 16, Steele said, and had threatened her life if she told. Family members initially said that White was Robinson's boyfriend but have since backed off from that claim.

"He held her in bondage with fear and control for many years. She got free of that fear the night before she was murdered," Steele said. "That is why it is so important that we require background checks to keep mentally ill, deranged and dangerous people from purchasing guns legally and so easily."

Triangle mayors rally for universal background checks Triangle mayors rally for universal background checks

Not everyone at the Durham event, however, agreed with stricter background checks.

Sean Sorrentino, who runs the site NC Gun Blog, said universal checks won't work because criminals will still figure out ways to get guns.

"I don't' think background checks are anything but one more way to trap citizens and send them to jail when all they want to do is exercise their constitutional rights," he said.

Sorrentino said he believes much of the proposed federal legislation just hurts law-abiding citizens and that there is a lot of detail that people haven't considered.

For example, he said, it would be illegal for him to loan a gun to a friend to practice shooting – a felony crime that could land him in federal prison for five years.

"If you can't be trusted with a firearm, you can't be trusted without a custodian," Sorrentino said. "If I can't hand you a firearm and feel safe, then maybe we ought to consider putting you in a place where you can be taken care of."

But background checks work, Kleinschmidt said, citing statistics that they have stopped the sale of approximately 2 million guns to felons, domestic abusers and those with mental illnesses.

"We know that the system can work but not when 40 percent of gun sales in this country are circumventing the system," he said. "We need reasonable, strong reforms that will allow this system to work to keep these guns out of the hands of those who, we as citizens know, should not have them."

About 6.5 million guns are sold each year at gun shows and by unlicensed sellers who are not required under federal law to perform a background check, Holcombe said.

On average, she said, 33 people in the United States die each day as a result of gun violence. The rate of firearms violence in the U.S., she said, is 20 times higher than in other high-income nations.

"We need, as a community, to know that the folks who are purchasing weapons are not convicted felons, are not seriously mentally ill," Kleinschmidt said. "We, as a community, as a state and a nation, deserve that kind of respect prior to the transfer of a weapon."

Republican members of North Carolina's congressional delegation have gone on the record saying that they intend to protect gun rights at all costs.

Sen. Richard Burr said in an a WRAL News interview Wednesday that he does not support background checks for private, person-to-person sales and transfers, the proposed legislation that Serrentino spoke about.

"I think it's important that we do uphold that ability for me to pass on to my children or for me to sell to a friend a firearm without going through an extensive check that might put me in a liability chain that really trial lawyers salivate over the opportunity for," Burr said.

Second District Congresswoman Renee Ellmers said the real issue in the gun control debate has to do with mental health.

"As long as we're strengthening the ability for a legal citizen to obtain firearms, I will always be in support of legislation there," she said. "But when it comes to limiting your ability to make your choice of a firearm, that’s when I draw the line."

315 Comments

This story is closed for comments. Comments on WRAL.com news stories are accepted and moderated between the hours of 8 a.m. and 8 p.m. Monday through Friday.

Oldest First
View all
  • glarg Mar 28, 7:38 p.m.

    "unlicensed sellers" - ie private citizens selling their private property.

    Why does everything the gun-grabbers cite have to be dishonest? The 40% number is busted as inaccurate propaganda. As is the deceptive " 33 people a day" statistic.

  • justcommonsense Mar 28, 7:38 p.m.

    "wish you screenname was more accurate, do you really think for one second that once you are shot...you die? seriously???? ER's are full of gunshot victims every seconfd of the day, they come in alive, then die....after extensive treatment that costs US money............use your common sense every once in awhile" SouthernPackerFan

    LOL... fortunately for me I do use common sense every single day. It's what has ensured my survival all my life. I don't fall for the first bit of information out there pushed by either political party. I'm not a blind follower and common sense does indeed indicate that a survivor of a shooting is going to incur much higher costs for medical care due to the one simple fact that they will receive said medical care for a much longer period of time than someone who is brought in and dies within hours.

  • eddybal Mar 28, 7:22 p.m.

    For the record: Despite popular belief, neither New York City nor Chicago have the highest gun fatality rate. Illinois has tough gun laws and, yes, Chicago has a high murder rate. But you can have all gun laws of the world, it is ineffective if your neighbor( Indiana)has almost free for all in guns.

  • kawirider54 Mar 28, 7:05 p.m.

    retroconsultant - The Libs have a new spokesman concerning gun control - Jim Carrey...
    Don't they realize that Obama to date is the greatest gun salesman ever.

  • NC_Beach_n_Mtn_guy Mar 28, 6:58 p.m.

    I am a lifelong North Carolina Resident and DO NOT agree with any of the so called report. I have not met anyone who agrees with this story. I do think this is a "story" as my grandma used to say.

    Fourth Time today kicked out by the WRAL MODERATOR!!!!!!!!

  • glarg Mar 28, 6:53 p.m.

    Since Obama's gun grabbing publicity campaign started in December there has been a spike of nearly 9 million additional guns sold above the baseline.
    http://www.fbi.gov/about-us/cjis/nics/nics-firearms-checks-top-10-highest-days-weeks

    Clearly if anyone is significantly concerned about having fewer guns in circulation they would tone down their gun grabbing rhetoric (eg Andrew Cuomo) and not try to ram through legislation in a panicky way. Obama's dismay that people are starting to question the bill of good the Democrats tried selling after Newtown is really telling.

  • david46 Mar 28, 6:42 p.m.

    here is a novel idea, ENFORCE THE GUN LAWS ALREADY IN PLACE. Chicago is probably the most violet city in america and guess who is dead last at enforcing existing laws. Why do gun grabbers think they will be safe by stomping all over my constitutional rights to protect and defend my family and home, because if you think the gov't will do it you are sadly mistaken. Any new laws will lead to registration and then confiscation. History has taught us that gov'ts that disarmed their own citizens then went on to murder millions. An armed man is a citizen everyone else is merely a slave. Thats why we have a 2nd amendment and by the way thats what gives teeth to all the others.

  • Ex-Republican Mar 28, 6:42 p.m.

    "Assault weapons were always automatic weapons with high capacity. "

    100% correct, retroconsultant. In fact to discuss banning assault weapons doesn't make sense because they have banned for a very long time in the US.

    For those interested in learning more read under the heading, "Relation to assault rifles" at http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Assault_weapon.

  • gevalia Mar 28, 6:41 p.m.

    1:
    NOBODY, including the president, has any idea how many firearms are sold,given,traded between individuals in the US. NOBODY! It is simply a scare tactic for the uninformed. The real stats, from interviewing inmates serving time for gun related crimes, shows more than 80% got their firearms from friends, on the street (stolen), or stole them themselves. All other stats about 40% are a lie.
    2:
    There is NO SUCH THING as an unliscened gun dealer, is someone is selling guns as a dealer they are already breaking to law and should be put in jail.
    3:
    Talk about stupid numbers, 2 million sales declined; and how many were prosecuted for this crime? The last figure I saw was 44! The wonderful DOJ did not even try to pursue these felons! Many of these were people who perhaps had an arrest for pot in their hippie days or had a former wife who filed a protection order against them years ago. Most had no idea they were even on the list.
    Once again what do we do? "run in circles scream and shout"

  • Ex-Republican Mar 28, 6:30 p.m.

    "Pure liberal lies. 40% is an estimate that was derived in the very early 90's,"

    Imcwm, Thanks for the background on that 40% figure.

    What do they say about statistics, 47% of them are made up on the spot? ;-)

More...