25 May 2022
North Carolina Gov. Roy Cooper called on state legislators and members of Congress to craft laws to reduce gun violence.
The plea came on the heels of a Texas school shooting that left 19 students and two adults dead.
“We’ve seen it too many times,” Cooper said in a video posted on Twitter. “Mass shootings. Easy-to-get military assault weapons. Teachers turning themselves into human shields. Children murdered. What on earth is more important than protecting our children?”
Cooper has long pushed for stricter gun control. In 2019, he signed a directive to improve gun purchase background checks, better identify potential threats and respond to mass shootings more effectively.
On Wednesday, Cooper called for stronger laws, including legislation on universal background checks before the U.S. Senate.
He also called on state legislators to close what he described as permit loopholes for certain weapons, and to approve legislation that would let judges take away guns from violent criminals and people who are severely mentally ill.
“Pass it and I’ll sign it,” Cooper said.
“We cannot normalize the mass murder of children,” he added. “We cannot wait any longer. It has to stop.”
There’s no apparent appetite in the Republican-controlled General Assembly for new gun control laws. Speaker of the House Tim Moore told reporters Wednesday that “disarming law abiding citizens is not the way to make people safer.”
Moore, R-Cleveland, keyed on mental health services.
“I think the thing that we need to do more is really to invest in behavioral health,” he said.
The Republican majority that Moore leads in the House, though, is blocking the Medicaid expansion Cooper has called for, and which Senate Republicans backed this week after years of opposition. Expansion would put billions of dollars from federal taxpayers into the state’s health care systems, including mental health care.
Asked about that, Moore said the state already spends heavily on mental health, and that other states spending even more have their own problems.
“It’s not just a money issue,” he said. “The notion that you can throw enough money at it—even under [President] Joe Biden we don’t print enough money to take care of that. There’s going to have to be some changes made in how we deliver care to these folks.”