Gov. Roy Cooper is advocating for a special permit to buy certain kinds of modern sporting rifles, along with a host of other legal changes, in the wake of the Florida high school shooting that left 17 dead and the subsequent calls for gun control following the attack.
Cooper made his announcement on the same day as students executed planned walkouts advocating for stricter gun control.
“After the tragedy in Parkland, Florida, conversations about school safety and gun reforms have taken place all over America,” Cooper said. “Brave students are making their voices heard, and it’s clear they want action. I do too.”
Cooper called for the federal government to outright discontinue the sale of the modern sporting rifles like the AR-15, but until that happens Cooper is calling for state action to increase the age to buy what he calls “assault weapons” to 21 and require a check off from the sheriff of the county much like a handgun purchase currently requires.
In recent years gun rights organizations have sought to have the pistol purchase permit system thrown out based on its history as being created as a tool to keep blacks from obtaining handguns by giving the sheriff the power to limit the sale of handguns to those of good “moral character.”
While removing the Jim Crow era law has seen heavy resistance in recent years, it comes more from the revenue source to the sheriff’s offices from the fee for obtaining the permit.
Under Cooper’s wishes that system would be strengthened by giving sheriff’s dominion over the sale of another type of firearm.
Cooper calls the fact that handguns require an okay from the sheriff and not modern sporting rifles a “double standard” and a “loophole” even though modern sporting rifles like the AR-15 are subject to the same background check requirements as other semi-automatic rifles, semi-automatic shotguns and other long guns.
Cooper also advocates for enacting “extreme risk protection orders” in the state allowing people to petition the courts to take somebody’s guns away if they feel they are a danger to themselves or others.
Cooper also called for a ban on “bump stocks” saying if federal efforts to ban the stocks fail then the state should take action to ban the devices.
Cooper said that the devices “turn semi-automatic guns into machine guns” but opinions from the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives has already ruled differently and decided that those devices are not subject to federal regulation regarding select fire weapons.
He again renewed the call to expand Medicaid in the state tapping into federal funds that would cover a portion of the increased cost for a few years which Republicans have resisted for years, this time under the guise of offering mental health care to more individuals.
“I have long advocated for North Carolina to close our health care coverage gap by accepting federal funds that are offered to us to cover 500,000 more North Carolinians. This would benefit working families who currently earn just a little bit too much to be eligible for Medicaid but still can’t afford to pay for health care.
It would connect hundreds of thousands of people with quality mental health care to make sure they don’t slip through the cracks.”
Cooper called for increasing the number of school personnel who receive youth and adult mental health first aid training as well as ordering the North Carolina Department of Safety to direct law enforcement and school administrators to ensure their rapid deployment training and school emergency response plans are in order.
Cooper also recognized the need for government to do a better job of reporting necessary information to the appropriate bodies to ensure the integrity of the background check system.
“Background checks are an important part of keeping guns out of the wrong hands, but they are only as good as the information in the database,” Cooper said. “To ensure that we are doing our part to make background checks more effective, I’ve directed the State Bureau of Investigation to undertake a comprehensive inventory of the quality of information our state shares with the federal background check system. If critical information our state should be reporting is missing, we need to know and we need to change that.”
This article was originally featured on NC Capitol Connection.