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M&R Glasgow via Flickr (CC license 2.0)

By Jim Morrill, The Charlotte Observer

A day after 17 people died in a mass shooting, two Republicans running for Congress in the 9th District say no new gun laws are needed.

U.S. Rep. Robert Pittenger said existing laws need to be enforced. He pointed to the fact that the accused killer in Tuesday’s Florida school shooting cleared an instant background check when he bought the AR-15.

“Nikolas Cruz passed a background check,” Pittenger said in a statement. “(House Democratic Leader) Nancy Pelosi’s call for additional gun control is a case of misplaced priorities. America needs to focus on the root causes of violence by addressing mental health and the glorification of carnage in games, TV, and music.”

Mark Harris, a former Charlotte pastor, said at their root, recent mass shootings are caused by some combination of the breakdown of families, mental illness and an “addiction” to violent video games.

“I believe that there are laws in place that aren’t being enforced,” he said. “Enforcing the laws we have has to be the key rather than creating new laws.”

Democrat Dan McCready, a Charlotte business owner and former Marine, said he supports “common-sense gun violence prevention.”

“As a Marine, I was trained to use a gun to kill and know how deadly they can be,” he said in a statement. “I am quite certain that we can maintain the rights I fought for while also making it harder for terrorists, domestic abusers, and the mentally ill to get a weapon.”

He said he supports a bill by Sens. Joe Manchin, a West Virginia Democrat, and Pat Toomey, a Pennsylvania Republican, that would require background checks on all commercial gun sales. A similar measure was defeated in 2013.

Democratic candidate Christian Cano could not be reached.

The Charlotte Observer

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One reply on “Charlotte congressional candidates split on need for tougher gun laws”

  1. The Florida school shooting was yet another example of a miscreant shooter, who was well known to authorities: school administrators, guidance counselors, DSS, the family’s doctor, Sheriff’s Office and the FBI. And, once again in the aftermath, we observed law enforcement pandering to the cameras with the meme, “if you see something, say something,” while simultaneously demanding legislators give them new extra-Constitutional authority to involuntary detain people for mental evaluation, based on little more than a objectionable social media post or anonymous tip. Further, before the bodies are even laid to rest, we observe politicians, the legacy media and unwitting student accomplices, marching in lock step with an agenda for more gun control laws.

    Indeed, it’s past time for a real conversation about life safety in 2018. However, we must cease with the needless debate about non-solutions, which run a foul of the US Constitution. Murder is already against the law. Possession of a firearm on school campuses is already illegal. Yet, those laws do nothing to stop a determined mass killer. Moreover, it is pure folly to assume all persons with mental illness, who wish to do others harm can be preemptively identified… not even with new and enhanced background checks. Worse, would be for legislators to pass more knee jerk, restrictive gun legislation, while promoting the idea that somehow more gun laws, will miraculously keep weapons out of the hands of individual’s who wish to do others harm.

    Realistic solutions to make K-12 schools safer will only come after thoughtful threat assessment, the implementation of intruder detection systems and controlled access screening of students, faculty and staff. Things like monitored perimeter security fencing, strategic surveillance cameras, manned security access points for campus entry, manned security screening points for building ingress and egress and security escorts for visitors, could all provide realistic protection. In addition, emergency communications protocols for both students, faculty and staff need to be established for proper messaging in times of real emergencies. A ‘watch list” should be circulated to all administrators, faculty and staff. Training and regular drills should be established and implemented for survival in live shooter situations. And finally, armed security personnel should be stationed on all school campuses. These security solutions are already in place in our nation’s airports, nuclear power plants, court houses, many government facilities and private businesses. These measures are proven to be 95% effective in deterring [gun crime] within those facilities. Funding for these types of solutions are what folks should be demanding of their state and local legislators. Not, more restrictive, knee jerk gun control laws which will do nothing to resolve the real threat that exists on k-12 school campuses today.

    Afterward, there should be a realistic discussion as to why so many young males are depressed, and acting out in suicidal or homicidal ways. Topics for review should include a sample review of educational placement, family composition, usage of social media, usage of war gaming programs, psychotropic prescription drug use, extra-curricular associations, activities and episodes of anti-social behavior, etc…… in an effort to identify particular attributes that may be negatively impacting behavior.

    Afterward, results of that research could serve as a starting point in helping to shape a broad spectrum of future policies relative to schools and mental healthcare delivery to students. The goal being to identify high risk individuals at the local school level, then provide a meaningful intervention in an effort to preemptively alter the potential for deviant behavior.

    One thing is glaringly evident, parents who simply ignore the problem at home, Drs, who simply prescribe psychotropic meds like candy, or administrators who simply expel the problem from school, are only adding fuel to a festering problem child. It’s past time to dissect the problem, break it down to its base components, then determine exactly which environmental factors are fueling it. There are many theories, but no real data to validate that readily explains the behavior of youthful mass shooters. Areas of review should include for example…. are smart phones, social apps and social media causing withdrawal from real society? Are high risk students who have self image issues, turning to the alternate reality of social media in search of interpersonal relationships which should be naturally occurring in the real world? Are high risk students being unwittingly indoctrinated by cult like ideologies found online? etc… The point being, human behavior risk factors must also be identified, and included in any thoughtful threat assessment.

    Again, we must avoid the emotional propensity to advocate for knee jerk extra-Constitutional legislation which might ensnare or potentially take away rights of individuals who pose no threat to themselves or the public. Today, our threat level of being victim to some form of domestic violence is higher than seen in past decades. However, that does not mean our options are limited to those solutions laid out by partisan politicians, and the media in order to better to protect ourselves. In fact, [we] must take charge, be part of the solution process, and not be hoodwinked into accepting politically charged legislation that will not do anything toward making us safer.

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