An Inappropriate Attack on a Life-Saving NC Firearms Policy
Lt. Gov. Mark Robinson and Paul Valone couldn’t be more exploitative in continuing a spurious campaign to undermine the life-saving gun license law by branding it racist. Their efforts to use racial baiting as a tool to repeal a key North Carolina public safety law are as dangerous as they are hypocritical. They emphasize how out of touch they are with the reality of gun violence and racial justice in North Carolina.
The reality is that African Americans in North Carolina are disproportionately affected by gun violence, which is the leading killer of black children and young men in the state. Although the black and non-Hispanic North Carolinas made up 22.1% of North Carolina’s population in 2018, they recorded 67.1% of homicide gun deaths. This violence is the result of systemic inequities and racism, compounded by the guns that are often trafficked in the most affected neighborhoods. Our firearms licensing system helps prevent the diversion of illegal firearms to communities most affected by daily gun violence. It helps reduce the racial disparities in gun homicides and it saves countless lives. We should not remove one of the few laws that disproportionately saves black lives from gun violence.
Gun licensing systems, such as the North Carolina Gun Licensing System, are one of the most evidence-based policies to prevent gun violence. It is clear that repealing this law would be a dangerous and harmful change. In the years after the Missouri Firearms License Purchase Act was repealed in 2007, gun homicide rates were 47% higher and gun suicide rates were fire were 24% higher than controls. Conversely, the Connecticut Purchasing Permit Act, passed in 1995, was associated with gun homicide rates 28% lower than the control group and gun suicide rates. 33% lower than the control group over the 22 years after adoption. The study on these two states can be found here.
2020 was the most violent year of the 21st century in our state. Gun deaths, excluding suicides, increased 31% in 2020 from 2019 and repealing our gun licensing system would surely mean the loss of more lives. We cannot afford to be like Missouri.
Another peer-reviewed study found that after controlling for a wide range of demographic and social factors, firearms licensing laws were associated with an 11% reduction in firearm homicides in the provinces. urban counties (1984-2015). This suggests that licensing laws are helping tackle the high rates of gun violence that disproportionately affects underserved black communities in cities.
If lawmakers really cared about tackling racial disparities, they would support the governor’s budget proposal to invest millions in criminal justice reform efforts to address the legacy of racist policies in North Carolina, including $ 15 million to fund community violence intervention programs. And they would oppose blatant efforts to deny black voters the right to vote.
Let’s be clear, opposition to the gun license law is not based on a desire to promote racial fairness; it is based on a desire to appease the gun lobby. But the effect would be the same: weakening gun safety laws in North Carolina at a time when we need it most.
Becky Ceartas is Executive Director of North Carolinians Against Gun Violence; Marcus Bass is Deputy Director of NC Black Alliance.