An angry Gov. Roy Cooper released a video last Wednesday afternoon in response to the Uvalde, Texas, elementary school mass shooting that left 19 children and two adults dead, stressing that as a society, we can’t just accept children being slaughtered. He also called for the passage of common-sense gun laws.
In the video, Cooper said that this country has seen mass shootings “too many times” and that “military assault weapons” are “easy to get.” The governor said that we have seen teachers “[turn] themselves into human shields” and watched too many children get murdered.
Cooper, a Democrat, then asked a question that is easy to answer no matter your political beliefs: “What on Earth is more important than protecting our children? What on Earth is more important than stopping our schools, houses of worship and even grocery stores from turning into slaughter fields?”
The answer for most people is probably something like “nothing is more important than protecting our children and keeping our communities safe” – unless, of course, you’re a Republican politician like Lt. Gov. Mark Robinson or Sens. Burr and Tillis who are getting that sweet gun lobby money, in which case the answer seems to be “my right to own a military-grade weapon.”
Cooper went on to say that, as governor, he “[feels] a strong responsibility to do all I can to keep our children safe at school and to prevent these horrible mass shootings.”
The governor then highlighted some of his past actions on gun safety, citing executive action he took in 2019 to make North Carolina’s background check system stronger, as well as mandated safety plans at schools, an increase in coordination between schools and local law enforcement, and his vetoes of “dangerous bills that would have allowed guns in schools.”
Despite his efforts, Cooper said those things are “not enough” and that “we need stronger laws.” He then called on Republican leaders in both Congress and North Carolina’s legislature “to stop the excuses and work with us to do more.”
“A strong universal background checks law is now sitting in the U.S. Senate. Pass it and the president will sign it,” Cooper said. “And while they’re at it, they should ban assault weapons.”
The governor added that until a background check law or weapons ban is in place, “state legislators should close North Carolina’s permit loophole for [assault] weapons.”
“Pass it and I’ll sign it,” Cooper said.
The governor continued, highlighting another gun reform law that he’s put forward.
“I’ve proposed a red flag law that lets judges take guns away from violent criminals and people who are severely mentally ill. Pass it and I’ll sign it,” he said.
Cooper then addressed something he said he commonly hears from gun rights advocates – that the common denominator in these massacres isn’t the weaponry but is actually mental health issues – and used it as a pivot point to talk about something he’s fought for since he took office.
“Well, there’s a bill right now in the legislature that will provide billions of dollars for mental health through Medicaid expansion. Pass it and I’ll sign it,” he said.
The governor then made a good faith call for bipartisanship, which is about the only way of getting any sort of new gun reform legislation passed on either the federal or state level.
“We need Republicans in North Carolina and across the country to come to the table and pass these bills,” Cooper said. “Or we need to choose new leaders.”
Cooper ended his message by warning that we as a nation cannot continue to sweep these massacres under the rug and out of our minds.
“We cannot forget this tragedy when it fades from the news. We cannot normalize the mass murder of children. We cannot wait any longer. It has to stop.”