Local News

Task Force Suggests Gun Permit Changes for Mentally Ill

Posted January 9, 2008
Updated January 10, 2008

— A state law to make counties share what is now confidential information about mental-health commitments is one of nearly a dozen measures that a task force on college-campus safety has recommended.

Attorney General Roy Cooper announced that measure Thursday along with the task force's 10 other major recommendations to help prevent campus violence and prepare for, respond to and recover from it if it happens on one of the state's 110 college campuses.

“No one wants to think about something so horrible ever happening here in North Carolina, but it’s our job to be ready in case the unthinkable occurs,” Cooper said Thursday. “These recommendations can help our colleges and universities get ready, reduce violence and prevent loss of life.”

Cooper assembled the 21-member Task Force on Campus Safety last year in response to the April 16 Virginia Tech massacre in which Seung-Hui Cho killed 32 students and faculty and wounded 25 others in the deadliest school-shooting rampage in American history.

"We can take steps to prevent these attacks, and we can be ready for them in case they do occur," Cooper told WRAL Wednesday.

Cooper hopes sharing mental-health information about involuntary committments is something lawmakers will be willing to consider.

"If that had happened during this process at Virginia Tech, then potentially, those shootings could have been prevented," he said.

Cho passed a background check and bought one gun from a store and a second online despite having been deemed mentally defective by a Virginia court.

"People with severe and mental illnesses really don't need to be buying guns," Cooper said.

Currently, in North Carolina, someone who wants a gun permit undergoes a criminal background check, but it does not include mental health information unless the applicant waives his or her rights.

Last year, there were nearly 5,200 involuntary commitment petitions filed in Wake County.

"It's something that if the Legislature sees fit to put this process in place, we will be happy to comply with (it)," Wake County Clerk of Superior Court Lorrin Freeman said. "It's important to the public safety of our community. It's something that we will be willing to work with."

Most of the other initiatives suggested by the task force involve improving the flow of emergency communication throughout campus and to local law enforcement in the event of an emergency.

It recommends state lawmakers create a campus safety center to help colleges across the state implement safety programs. And it advises campuses to regularly reviewed and update the programs and train and educate the campus community about those plans.

Several campuses in the University of North Carolina system already have  started implementing emergency-notification systems in the wake of the Virginia Tech rampage. North Carolina State and UNC-Chapel Hill are working on alert systems that utilize text messaging, e-mail and siren warnings.


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  • RWC Jan 10, 2008

    "Cho passed a background check and bought one gun from a store and a second online despite having been deemed mentally defective by a Virginia court." WRAL makes it sound like its possible just to buy a firearm on line without the mandatory background check. Any transfer still has to pass through a FFL in order to do a NCIS check. This is law in VA and NC, and the other states.

  • GWALLY Jan 10, 2008

    Yea, I have a disorder also, I hate criminals!!!!

  • GWALLY Jan 10, 2008

    My task force has discovered......The problem is CRIME and the lack of PUNISHMENT !!!!!! How many of us have EVER put our hands on a hot stove even a SECOND time, much less third, fourth, fifth, sixth and so on??????? Now pay me my 2mil. for this enlightening, non politically correct study!!!!!!!!!!!!

  • brassy Jan 10, 2008

    Mentally ill people shouldn't own guns. Take it from someone who knows. I have a mood disorder and can't have a gun in the house.

  • Dr. Dataclerk Jan 10, 2008

    Mentally ill do not need guns or any weapons of any kind. PERIOD.

  • Grandaddy Jan 10, 2008

    to ifcdirector: You printed exactly what I was thinking the whole time I was reading this story. It's nice to know that other people in this world still believe in a persons right to defend themselves and protect our freedom. Thanks

  • PikeMom4real Jan 10, 2008

    Not just involuntary,but voluntary also.I know of 2 people right off the top who have guns.One just tried to use it on New Years Eve.She was a "voluntary".The other well he is on Mental Disability and has a few guns.He take anger management,has been called on to police many times by his wife.He too was voluntary (more than once).
    If you are crazy,then you are crazy,give up your guns.

  • ifcdirector Jan 10, 2008

    Yeah that's really going to help secure campuses. Right..... The practical measure that would help secure campuses would be to allow permit holding and already screened and certified Concealed Carry Permit holders to carry their weapons on campuses like they do at malls, on streets, in stores, etc etc. Why are school campuses magical places that must remain completely free of the right to defend ones self at all times and how are they any different than any of those other places? Can anyone offer any kind of reasoning beyond liberal lunacy on that? The truth is that one person with a Concealed Carry Permit could have ended the Virginia Tech madman's reign of terror with one shot. Why do you think people target school campuses for such shootings? Could it be that they know they will find an abundance of unarmed law abiding victims? Ridiculous laws and ill directed efforts are not going to save anyone's life but that doesn't matter to a liberal does it now?

  • Eric Blair Jan 10, 2008

    Hitler, Stalin and Mao agree! Gun control works.

  • Myrrdin Jan 10, 2008

    "Task Force Suggests Gun Permit Changes for Mentally Ill"

    Because of the font WRAL uses, I was trying to figure out who the Mentally 3 were.