Editorial: Gun rights and common sense fire arms safety don't need to conflict

Posted June 26, 2016 6:00 a.m. EDT
Updated July 13, 2018 2:04 p.m. EDT

We need to set aside the overheated rhetoric and use common sense to keep assault-type weapons away from those who seek to harm the innocent; give us safer communities while still assuring law-abiding citizens their Constitutional right to bear arms.

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A CBC Editorial: Sunday, June 26, 2016; Editorial# 8022
The following is the opinion of Capitol Broadcasting Company.

When the founding fathers drafted the 2nd Amendment to the U.S. Constitution, a skilled marksman could load and fire a musket in eight to 10 seconds. Today, in half that time, someone armed with the popular AR-15, the “semi-automatic” firearm that seems to be the weapon of choice at several mass killings, can empty a 30-round magazine. A line of George Washington’s revolutionary patriots would be mowed down before they could get off a shot.

There are tens of millions (no one keeps official records) of these assault-style weapons that have been sold since the "assault-style" weapons ban (from 1994 through 2004) was lifted. While the overwhelming majority of these weapons remain in the hands of responsible owners, it just takes one – as we learned most recently in Orlando, and before that in San Bernardino, Calif.; and before that on the campus of Umpqua Community College in Oregon; and before that in an elementary school in Newtown, Conn., and before that in a movie theater in Aurora, Colo. – to leave behind heart-breaking carnage.

Even the most modest, seemingly common-sense efforts, to keep these arms out of the hands of those we have labeled significant potential threats are met with hyperbolic protests and unflinching resistance.

North Carolina Sen. Richard Burr leads the Senate Intelligence Committee – a position makes that him as aware as anyone of the internal and external threats we face. Burr is dismissive of even the most modest efforts to limit access to these deadly power-weapons. When ABC News asked Burr, a Republican seeking re-election this year, if he thought that the FBI should be notified when someone who was, or had been, on a terror watch list tried to purchase weapons, he was adamant in his opposition. “These individuals are U.S. citizens, and we take their Second Amendment rights away because the FBI interviews them? … Boy, I think that’s going a little too far.”

Any talk these days that even hints at gun control is marked by caution. Still, in the wake of the latest tragedy in Orlando, Deborah Ross, a Raleigh Democrat challenging Burr, called for “common-sense gun safety.” Thorough background checks, she said during an appearance in Salisbury, would be a way to assure that would-be terrorists and those with a history of violence in their background didn’t get access to these weapons.

The common sense that Ross was alluding to initially seemed in short supply in the state House of Representatives when Rep. Larry Pittman, R-Cabarrus, along with co-sponsors Michael Speciale, R-Craven, Mark Brody, R-Union and Michele Presnell, R-Yancey, filed a bill to amend the N.C. Constitution to end requiring a permit to carry a concealed weapon.

Rep. Larry Pittman

Rep. Michael Speciale

Rep. Mark Brody

Rep. Michele Presnell

Rep. Larry Pittman,
Rep. Michael Speciale,
Rep. Mark Brody,
Rep. Michele Presnell,

"We need to stop keeping law-abiding citizens from defending themselves," Pittman said. "The Second Amendment to the United States Constitution is the only permit an honest citizen needs to carry concealed weapons."

The bill was filed two days before the Orlando massacre.

Monday evening, House Speaker Tim Moore, R-Cleveland, sent the bill to the House Rules Committee, where it will likely snooze for the remainder of the legislative session. Rules Committee Chairman David Lewis, R-Harnett, said, with the pressing need to deal with the budget, he doesn’t expect to hold a hearing or vote on the bill.

Pittman’s proposal, frankly is as dumb as it is dangerous. Today, those seeking to carry concealed weapons must undergo a thorough back ground check, classroom instruction in gun laws and safety along with hands-on firearms training – certainly reasonable and a far-cry from any undue burden.

A single gun in the wrong hands spells disaster. Overheated rhetoric and hyper- patriotic chest-thumping won’t prevent the next disaster, but a bit of common sense would be a good start. We must deliberatively figure out how to keep these assault-style weapons away from those who seek to harm the innocent, that will give us safer communities while still assuring law-abiding their Constitutional to bear arms.

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