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5 Things to Know: Republicans Refuse to Close Domestic Violence Loophole in Gun Law

...and four more stories from Feb. 19-25, 2023

House Bill 50 would eliminate North Carolina’s pistol permitting process and weaken background checks. Republicans Wednesday rejected an amendment that would close the domestic violence loophole for pistol permits in North Carolina.
House Bill 50 would eliminate North Carolina’s pistol permitting process and weaken background checks. Republicans Wednesday rejected an amendment that would close the domestic violence loophole for pistol permits in North Carolina. (Photo by J. Zehnder/AdobeStock)

Republicans Refuse to Close Domestic Violence Loophole in Gun Law

Republicans in the NC House of Representatives on Wednesday advanced House Bill 50, which would eliminate North Carolina’s pistol permitting process and weaken background checks. They also rejected an amendment to fix North Carolina’s “domestic violence gun loophole,” which allows a person convicted of misdemeanor assault against their spouse or partner in North Carolina to purchase firearms, unlike in some other states.

“Convicted domestic abusers should not be allowed to purchase firearms,” wrote House Democratic Leader Robert Reives in a release on Wednesday. “It is way past time for North Carolina to close this dangerous loophole. Just days after a legislative committee voted unanimously to close the loophole, Republicans refused to do so today. They had the opportunity to do the right thing, but instead bowed to pressure from far-right groups.”

On Monday, gun safety leaders, gun owners, survivors of gun violence, community leaders, and others gathered in Raleigh to urge lawmakers to reject HB 50, supporting the role that sheriffs’ departments play in ensuring dangerous people cannot legally buy guns.

“Taking authority out of the hands of our local sheriffs makes no sense. They are our law enforcement and most likely to be able to identify people in the community who are a danger to others and themselves and should not have a gun,” a release from North Carolinians Against Gun Violence read. “Repealing our permitting system will mean that a domestic violence abuser, minor, a felon or someone experiencing a mental health crisis can go to a gun show or online and buy a handgun no questions asked.”

The release pointed out that, after Missouri repealed its handgun purchaser licensing law in 2007, the state’s firearm homicide rate increased 47% from 2008–2016 and their firearm suicide rate increased 24% from 2008–2017, compared to the rate expected had they not repealed their law. 

House Bill 50 was passed in a 67-48 vote along party lines and will now go to the State Senate for its consideration.


McFadden Speaks Against New ICE Cooperation Bills

Mecklenburg County Sheriff Garry McFadden released a statement Tuesday voicing his strong opposition to House Bill 10 and Senate Bill 50, which seek to force every duly elected sheriff in North Carolina to honor voluntary Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) detainers, even if the sheriff and the respective communities they serve oppose such cooperation with ICE.

Garry McFadden
Sheriff Garry McFadden speaks to reporters at a press conference in February 2022. (Photo by Ryan Pitkin)

McFadden has publicly feuded with ICE after winning his first election in part thanks to his campaign promise to end all cooperation with the agency.

“I remain steadfast in my belief that the people of each county as reflected by the decisions of the Sheriff whom they elected should retain the ability to decide within the clear confines of the law as to what extent local law enforcement might cooperate with federal immigration authorities,” McFadden said on Tuesday. “I stand firmly against HB10 and SB50, and believe that Mecklenburg County is safer when all members of our community can trust and engage with local law enforcement without fear of repercussions as it pertains to their federal immigration status.”

Both bills are in committee at the time of this writing and have not passed through either chamber of the North Carolina General Assembly. 


Large Hydraulic Oil Spill Near Little Sugar Creek

Following reporting from WSOC’s Joe Bruno, Charlotte-Mecklenburg Storm Water Services confirmed Wednesday that, on Monday, contractors boring under Morehead Street in Charlotte experienced an equipment failure that resulted in the release of an estimated 150 gallons of hydraulic oil, with an estimated 20 to 30 gallons reaching Little Sugar Creek immediately downstream in the area of Medical Center Drive.

According to Wednesday’s release, clean-up efforts were already underway, including the placement of floating petroleum booms, which serve to contain and collect the oil for removal, across the creek at nine different locations downstream to the confluence with Briar Creek upstream of Tyvola Road. The release states that a small amount of residual material had already made it past the booms and was visible from the Little Sugar Creek Greenway.

Two white contraptions spread across Little Sugar Creek while a large backhoe can be seen in the background.
On Friday, petroleum booms remained floating atop Little Sugar Creek near a construction site at Morehead Street where 150 gallons of hydraulic oil were spilled Monday. (Photo by Ryan Pitkin)

“This is an active environmental cleanup that Charlotte-Mecklenburg Storm Water Services will continue to oversee for several more days until the product is removed and conditions restored,” the release reads. “Impacts to aquatic life are always a concern with discharges to our creeks. To date, no negative impacts have been observed and none are expected going forward. There are no threats to human health from the discharge.”


Tim Moore’s Vehicle Rammed While Driving on Highway

N.C. House Speaker Tim Moore was not injured after a car he was riding in was rammed multiple times by an alleged drunk driver during a return trip to Wake County from Wilson on Thursday night. Moore was reportedly riding in the car, driven by a general assembly police officer, with fellow Republican N.C. Rep. David Willis and a staffer when a Chevrolet pickup truck drove behind them and began ramming the back of the car repeatedly. 

Someone in the car called police while the general assembly officer followed the suspect along I-87 in Wake County. Police later arrested a Goldsboro man and charged him with driving while impaired, resisting a public officer, injury to personal property, speeding to elude arrest, failure to heed blue lights and siren, hit and run, failure to reduce speed to avoid a collision and damage to property. 

Though no motive is known at the time of this writing, it’s not believed that Moore was targeted or that the suspect knew who was in the car when he rammed it. 


Woman Killed in Domestic Violence Incident

Two people were killed in separate incidents this week, including a woman who was stabbed to death in the second domestic violence homicide in 10 days. 

 

Just before 4 p.m. on Sunday, police responded to a shooting call on Lynn Street at the Ravenwood Hills apartment complex just before 4 p.m. and found 17-year-old Jayden Blackmon suffering from gunshot wounds. Medic transported Blackmon to the hospital, where he was pronounced dead. Police reported shortly after the incident that Blackmon was the target of a drive-by shooting. On Wednesday, police arrested an 18-year-old man who has been charged with murder and assault with a deadly weapon with intent to kill.

At around 5:30 a.m. on Friday, police responded to a domestic violence call at an apartment complex on Perth Court in east Charlotte, where they found 51-year-old Joanna Barrett dead from multiple stab wounds. Police took the suspect, a 42-year-old man, into custody at the scene and later charged him with murder. Barrett’s killing came just 10 days after 23-year-old Dionyah Thompson was killed in a murder-suicide that was also reportedly an incident of domestic violence. 


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