As gun control mania sweeps nation, voices of reason push back in Virginia, NC and online

by WorldTribune Staff, March 4, 2018

In the nearly three weeks since the school shooting in Parkland, Florida, advocates pushing for stricter gun control laws have monopolized the national conversation. Now, those on the other side of the issue are beginning to push back.

In a March 2 speech to the Virginia House of Delegates, Republican Del. Nick Freitas said that Democrats are refusing to discuss options to prevent mass shootings that do not consist of “tearing apart or gutting the Second Amendment.”

Virginia Del. Nick Freitas

The speech by Freitas, a military veteran who is challenging Sen. Tim Kaine, had been viewed online over five million times in the 24 hours after it was posted.

In North Carolina, improving school safety will be a priority for the state legislature, but Republicans, who have a supermajority in the state, will likely keep gun control out of the debate.

“Folks want to try to drag the gun debate into it,” Republican House Speaker Tim Moore said in a TV interview last week. “Look, that’s a discussion for another time.”

“I think if we were going to look seriously at school shootings and gun control, we would analyze things like: Why do all mass shootings seem to take place in gun free zones?,” Freitas said. “We would start to look at…most of the shooters come from broken homes. What sort of government policies have actually encouraged broken homes?”

Related: Virginia delegate upsets Democrats with appeal for ‘honest debate’ on school shootings, March 4, 2018

In Florida, the state Senate on March 5 will consider legislation that would raise the minimum age to buy a rifle from 18 to 21, expand the state’s three-day waiting period on gun sales to include rifles and shotguns and ban the sale and possession of bump stocks. Senators rejected an amendment to the bill that would have included a two-year moratorium on the sale of AR-15s.

David McLennan, a political scientist at Raleigh’s Meredith College, told the Raleigh News & Observer that “North Carolina would probably be one of the last states to follow the lead of Florida or even the federal government. I think we see the typical divide here. It just doesn’t seem to be that rural legislators have any interest at all in terms of doing anything significant in dealing with access to guns or mental health or any of the affiliated issues.”

North Carolina Republican state Rep. John Bradford, who favors tightening background check loopholes, said “I don’t think banning guns is the answer. My big thing is if people want to do harm, they’re going to do harm.”

The NC House passed legislation last year (House Bill 746) which “would allow anyone who legally owns a gun to carry it concealed without a permit anywhere they can carry it openly,” the News & Observer noted.

Meanwhile, gun control advocates may be taking a second look at one of their choices to champion their cause in the wake of the Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School shooting.

David Hogg, a 17-year-old student of the Parkland school, “has been as permanent a fixture on the nation’s TV screens as anyone bar the president,” National Review columnist Charles C.W. Cook wrote on Feb. 27.

“Among the proposals that Hogg has advanced,” Cook noted, “are that the most popular rifle in America be federally prohibited; that the NRA be regarded as a haven for ‘child murderers’; that Americans boycott Amazon, FedEx, and the state of Florida; and that Gov. Rick Scott take responsibility for the failures of another elected official.”

Cook continued: “Could it be, perhaps, that Hogg has become a liability and that his champions now regret having thrust him into the limelight? One certainly couldn’t blame them if they did, for Hogg is in fact a pretty poor advocate. And why, pray, would he be otherwise? Suffering through a terrible crime gives a person no special insight into its causes, and Hogg has no special insight into its causes — or, frankly, into anything else. He’s ignorant about basic civics; he’s liable to backward reasoning; and, unable as he is to synthesize the evolving talking points upon which he relies, he has increasingly come across as slippery.”

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