Less than 48 hours after a horrific Nashville school shooting that claimed the lives of six people, including three elementary school students, North Carolina Republican lawmakers voted on a bill that would make buying handguns easier.
In a vote along party lines, state Republicans voted to override Gov. Roy Cooper’s veto of the bill, which would no longer require law enforcement to issue permits before the purchase of a deadly weapon, regardless of an individual’s history of domestic violence or serious mental health problems.
“Without any debate allowed by GOP leadership because the arguments were too compelling for them to hear. … Allowing known domestic abusers and mentally ill people to buy handguns puts communities at risk,” Cooper tweeted.
Three then-Democrats could have made the difference in stopping the deadly measure – Tricia Cotham of Mecklenburg County, Cecil Brockman of Guilford County, and Michael Wray of Northampton, Halifax and Warren counties – failed to be present and vote.
It takes 48 votes in the N.C. House of Representatives to sustain a veto by the governor, however, there were 46 votes – two short of what was needed to uphold Gov. Cooper’s veto that would have maintained the requirement that an individual wanting to buy a handgun get a permit from the local Sheriff.
“There’s never a right week to make it easier for criminals to get their hands on guns, but doing it this week is absurd,” Attorney General Josh Stein tweeted. “Our legislators are failing us.”
Research shows that North Carolina children are 51% more likely to be killed by a gun compared to the national average. Since the start of last year, there have been 940 shooting deaths and 1,562 injuries in the state. In the previous year, the number of child deaths due to firearms was 121.
“Every vote counts and in this case, it isn’t a stretch to say her vote could have made a difference. Cast a vote and be on the record – that is what every legislator is elected to do. Brockman and Cotham’s constituents should hold them to account in the next election,” a recent editorial submitted to CBC Opinion states. “This overridden veto boils down to failed leadership and neglect of the duty legislators owe those they represent.”
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