Weather notwithstanding, things have not been very pretty here in North Carolina the past few weeks. The N.C. General Assembly's fully GOP'ed House and Senate have begun dismembering municipal powers and authorities hour by hour in ways that seem unfathomable. There's a bill coming before the senate on Tuesday that calls for concealing records on concealed-gun permits. Gov. Pat McCrory refused to expand Medicaid in accordance with the Affordable Care Act, leaving 700,000 North Carolinians without access to health care and losing valuable federal funds the state needs to recover from the worst recession since the Great Depression.
The list is endless, dreary -- and a call to action.
Several citizen-lobby groups have heeded the call to address an issue vital to public safety: gun violence in our state and nation. We're visiting U.S. and N.C. lawmakers one by one to talk with them about our own experiences with gun violence and our suggestions and recommendations for common-sense laws to address our nation's gun culture. We've visited Washington DC as part of Moms Take the Hill Day, and as individual efforts to meet with lawmakers from North Carolina. We've traveled to Dunn NC, where Rep. Renee Ellmers (R-NC-2) both packs a concealed weapon and featured placards around her office warning that nobody else is permitted to do so. We've talked in cafes and office buildings with state lawmakers (Democrats, Republicans, and Independents), delivering petitions and notecards from our friends, family, neighbors, and coworkers. We've sat in on committee meetings and been featured in newspapers and broadcast news.
And we have grown. The Cary Kitchen Table Group started in January with a gathering of around 20 individuals. Less than two months later, we've grown to more than 350 members.
Imagine our delight this past week, when we learned that our efforts have been joined by Mayors Against Illegal Guns and Organizing for Action. Both have sent organizers to coordinate with us to expand our efforts and amplify our voices. And we are fired up and ready to go!
If you're in the Triangle region this Thursday, March 28, please join us in Durham and/or Raleigh to lend your voice to the call for action.
Durham Mayor Bill Bell and Chapel Hill Mayor Mark Kleinschmidt will speak at an event (time and location TBD). Both mayors have been active with Mayors Against Illegal Guns, and Kleinschmidt was featured in a Demand Action to End Gun Violence PSA that went public earlier this month. Bell likewise has been vocal about the need to address gun violence.
You can sign up here and get updates on the Thursday gathering in Durham.
Your very own MsSpentyouth will be among the featured speakers at Moore Square in downtown Raleigh. We'll start our launch rally at 6:30 p.m. I'll talk about my own experiences with gun violence and introduce other leaders in the gun-reform movement in the Triangle, including Jen Geurin Ferrell, founder of Forward Americans.
You can sign up for the Raleigh gathering here.
North Carolina is a tough case for gun/ammunition reform. Already some of us citizen lobbyists have been frozen out of our legislators' offices and received vague threats from folks who want us to know that we shouldn't mess with angry, frustrated, and righteous people who are armed and know where we live. (Of course, all of that makes the case that our Founders never intended for the Second Amendment to become the scapegoat for violence against individuals or a tool for self-harm.)
So if you're in the N.C. Research Triangle this Thursday, please join us in welcoming Mayors Against Illegal Guns to our area and demonstrate that irrational fears and downright paranoia are not convincing arguments against public safety and common sense.