NC officials address strategies to increase safety from firearm violence, misuse

RALEIGH, N.C. (AP) — Gun-control advocates in the North Carolina legislature are pressing again for weapon restrictions they say will reduce the risk of mass shootings and other firearm violence.

Several House Democrats filed omnibus gun-safety legislation on Thursday, the one-year anniversary of the school shootings in Parkland, Florida, that left 17 people dead.

The measure would require background checks for all gun sales, beef up the safe-storage law and prohibit people under 21 from owning assault-style weapons. It also would ban high-capacity magazines, let local governments set their own gun regulations and require gun owners to carry firearm liability insurance.

First-term Democratic Rep. Christy Clark of Mecklenburg County, a former state leader for the Moms Demand Action gun-control group and a primary bill co-sponsor, said the legislation is a first step toward addressing gun violence she calls a “public health crisis.”

“It’s time for us to work together to keep North Carolina families safe from gun violence in schools, churches, movie theaters and concerts, Clark said at a news conference. “There is no better time than now.”

Republicans in charge of the General Assembly are unlikely to embrace such legislation, even as Democrats gained seats in November. The GOP has passed laws this decade that eased some gun laws.

In response to the Parkland shootings, GOP legislators last spring proposed several school safety changes and improvements that contained no gun-law alterations. Last year’s budget law included many recommendations and $28 million.

Rep. Marcia Morey, a Durham County Democrat and another co-sponsor, thanked lawmakers for last year’s efforts but said they don’t address the key element of the problem.

“We need to meet this on at the front end and what’s causing this, and it’s guns,” Morey said.

House Republicans filed several school safety bills Wednesday, including those that would increase monetary grants for school districts to pay for police officers, expand mental health screening for students and require public schools to hold annual safety exercises.

A separate bill filed by House Republicans this week would allow concealed handguns to be worn without a concealed-carry permit.

Copyright 2019, The Associated Press. All rights reserved.

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