N.C. gun laws might prevent a shooting like that in Tucson, group says
Image has not been found. URL: http://images.americanindependent.com/2010/08/MahurinLaw_Thumb1.jpgGun control advocates say North Carolina’s limits on gun purchases reduce the likelihood of the type of rampage that erupted Saturday in Tucson, Ariz., but they are concerned that those laws may be eased by the new Republican-led General Assembly.
“We have a lot of fears that in the next two years there will be attempts to weaken these gun laws,” Roxane Kolar, executive director of North Carolinians Against Gun Violence, said Tuesday.
In North Carolina, anyone seeking to purchase a handgun must pass a national background check and apply for a purchase permit from their local sheriff. Sheriffs can deny permits based on their investigation of a person’s background or information brought to their attention. Arizona, which has some of the country’s least restrictive gun laws, does not require the local review.
Republican legislative leaders could not be reached for comment Tuesday. The North Carolina Republican Party’s 2010 platform states, “We oppose further restriction on the ownership, sale, purchase and ‘lawful carry’ of firearms by law-abiding citizens. North Carolina should eliminate statewide ‘no carry’ zones.”
The North Carolina affiliate of the NRA, The North Carolina Rifle and Pistol Association, says on its website that its has been pushing for ten years “to get the Pistol Purchase Permit system completely eliminated.
Kolar said a legislative push to roll back N.C. guns laws “would be pretty shocking since most people have shown overwhelming support.”
Kolar cited a December poll by Public Policy Polling (PDF) which found that 67 percent of the 520 respondents agreed with current state law requiring county permits for handguns, and 90 percent supported background checks on all guns sold by authorized dealers.
Requiring a sheriff to review an application for a gun permit, Kolar said, may have prevented the Tucson shooting. That incident left six people dead and injured 13 others, including the critically wounded Rep. Gabrielle Giffords (D) of Arizona. The suspect in the case, Jared Loughner, had been thrown out of a community college because of concerns about his mental health, but his condition had not been legally certified and didn’t show up on a federal background check of public records. He had also been arrested, but not convicted, on drug charges.
“If Arizona had a similar law [to North Carolina’s], the local sheriff would likely have had that information at his disposal and would have been able to turn [Loughner] down,” Kolar said.
Rockingham County Sheriff Samuel S. Page, president of the North Carolina Sheriff’s Association, said his association hasn’t taken a position on changing the state’s gun laws, but he personally supports the state’s requirements.
“I’m a NRA member and pro-gun and I think we have some good laws on the books in North Carolina,” Page said