RALEIGH, N.C., June 20, 2013 /PRNewswire-USNewswire/ -- Fourteen North Carolina mayors today joined law enforcement leaders across the state in voicing their strong opposition to HB 937, a bill that would eliminate background checks by unlicensed "private sellers" of handguns. Supported by 90 percent of North Carolinians, background checks for all guns save lives by preventing easy access to handguns by criminals, domestic abusers and the dangerously mentally ill. But HB 937, backed by Washington gun lobbyists, would substantially weaken North Carolina's current background check system.
"We are deeply concerned about gun violence in our communities. According to the most recently available data, there are 429 gun murders in North Carolina every year – more than one per day. In the last five years, ten North Carolina law enforcement officials have been shot and killed. Given this terrible loss of life, we are dismayed that our state legislature is considering efforts to undermine our critical public safety laws," the mayors wrote in a letter to leadership in the General Assembly and Governor Pat McCrory. The letter is available here.
An amended version of HB 937 that passed the North Carolina state Senate last week would repeal the state's handgun permit requirement—easing access to handguns for dangerous criminals, domestic abusers and the dangerously mentally ill all across North Carolina. Empirical evidence shows states that have taken similar measures loosening restrictions on background checks have seen a spike in violent crime. In states that require background checks for all handgun sales, however, 39 percent fewer law enforcement officials are killed with handguns, and the firearm suicide rate is 49 percent lower.
Currently, because of a loophole in federal law, criminals can avoid background checks by buying firearms from unlicensed "private sellers" — often at gun shows or through anonymous online transactions — who are not required by federal law to conduct them. An estimated 6.6 million guns were transferred in 2012 without a federal background check, accounting for roughly 40 percent of all gun sales in the United States.
In advance of a concurrence vote in the North Carolina state House, North Carolina Mayors Against Illegal Guns coalition members and North Carolina law enforcement offered the following statements:
Chapel Hill Mayor Mark Kleinschmidt
"Allowing convicted felons and domestic abusers to buy handguns in our state with no questions asked is a recipe for disaster. We must make protecting our citizens and law enforcement officials a top priority, but this dangerous bill moves us in exactly the opposite direction. This bill is bad for North Carolina."
Durham Mayor Bill Bell
"Eliminating the handgun permit requirement will not make our communities any safer. In fact, it will only take away an important safeguard in the effort to make sure guns don't fall into dangerous hands. I urge our lawmakers to oppose this bill because background checks are not just formalities to acquiring a handgun, they are a critical tool for protecting public safety."
Morrisville Mayor Jackie Holcombe
"We would never pass legislation that allows people to choose whether or not they go through the metal detector at the airport yet this bill effectively lets criminals choose whether or not they undergo a background check when purchasing a handgun. Why on earth would we make it easier for convicted murderers and people with domestic violence convictions to avoid detection when buying handguns? I urge the General Assembly to stop this bill."
President of North Carolina Association of Chiefs of Police John Letteney
"The North Carolina Association of Chiefs of Police opposes the repeal of the current requirement for a permit to purchase a pistol, which requires a sheriff to check the background of the applicant for citizenship, felony or domestic violation convictions, court determinations of incompetence or commitments to mental institutions, or drug abuse. Elimination of this important background investigation prior to issuance of a pistol permit is detrimental to public safety."
About Mayors Against Illegal Guns
Since its creation in April 2006, Mayors Against Illegal Guns has grown from 15 members to more than 950 mayors from across the country, including 14 mayors from North Carolina. We have more than 1.5 million grassroots supporters, making us the largest gun violence prevention advocacy organization in the country. The bipartisan coalition has united the nation's mayors around these common goals: protecting communities by holding gun offenders accountable; demanding access to crime gun trace data that is critical to law enforcement efforts to combat gun trafficking; and working with legislators to fix weaknesses and loopholes in the law that make it far too easy for criminals and other dangerous people to get guns. Learn more at www.mayorsagainstillegalguns.org
SOURCE Mayors Against Illegal Guns