Democrats seek to reduce gun rights in states and cities
This month in Asheville, North Carolina, school board member Peyton O’Connor introduced a resolution calling on the city council and the Buncombe County Commission to pass zoning bylaws prohibiting the establishment or operating a gun store within five miles of any school or child. care facility.
Proponents say they have lawmakers ready to introduce similar policies, both at the state and local level, in California, Colorado, South Carolina, New Hampshire and New York. Brian Tabatabai, a member of the West Covina, Calif., city council who plans to introduce a zoning ordinance banning gun stores near schools, said he hopes local and state government can break the deadlock in Washington on the issue of gun laws.
“Local government is important, and I know a lot of people are frustrated and a lot of people feel hopeless that they don’t have power because Washington seems so stagnant and stuck,” Tabatabai said. “But I want people to know that City Hall is open, public comment is available, and those little ordinances, those little laws, those are the things that affect your life, and that’s where we can put our energy.”
This push to ban gun stores near schools comes in the wake of the shooting in Uvalde, Texas, in who an 18-year-old gunman killed 19 students and two teachers and injured 17 others. The Uvalde shooter bought the AR-15-style rifle he used at Robb Elementary School a few days after his 18th birthday. The shooter who killed 10 people at a supermarket in a predominantly black Buffalo neighborhood just 10 days earlier was also 18.
While none of the shootings were affected by school-side measures being pushed, some Democrats see it as another way to curb access for young people. The approach is also akin to Republican strategies against abortion rights, in which small movements have successfully brought the effort closer to the ultimate goal of ending abortion.
However, gun advocacy organizations have proposed even incremental changes to the current law as a first step toward tougher restrictions. In Republican-led states, that could make even small changes at the local level difficult to implement. If Republicans manage to block the small measures, Democrats say, they hope to at least make it politically painful.
“We need to take action and do something other than continue to offer thoughts and prayers,” said Deon Tedder, a House Democrat from South Carolina who plans to introduce similar legislation this year, scheduled for the next. meeting of the state legislature. “We make sure liquor stores aren’t too close to churches, playgrounds, and schools here in South Carolina, so why can’t we ban the sale and trade of firearms in proximity to our schools? This is something that should be bipartisan.
The Asheville School Board is expected to vote on O’Connor’s resolution at a meeting this month. One of his main supporters is Andrew Aydin, who once served as an adviser to Rep. John Lewis (D-Ga.) before moving to western North Carolina.
“There are gun stores close enough to the main high schools in Asheville and Hendersonville that you can walk off campus during your lunch, go to a gun store, buy a gun, and come back before your school is over. lunch period,” said Aydin, who now works as a comic book writer. “It doesn’t matter if we’re worried about a student or a teacher or a parent… If we’re not going to have background checks, if we’re not going to have waiting periods, we should at least make it impossible for that people walk easily to buy a gun and walk back.
Martin Young, spokesman for the East San Gabriel Valley Republican Center, near where Tabatabai’s ordinance will be proposed, said he may support the proposal.
“When people say they want to take out all the guns, I’m not supporting that,” said Young, who served in the Air Force and identifies as a center-right Republican. “But I don’t want some weirdo walking around with a gun. I don’t think that would be a foolproof solution, but I think we need to start doing something to prevent children from being shot like in Uvalde, Texas.
Michael Ceraso, a Washington-based Democratic strategist, said smaller-scale gun restrictions could open a new front in the debate.
“We want to start new conversations at the local level and win debates there, which then turn into laws,” said Ceraso, who has focused on local and national races. “It’s a long-term strategy, we haven’t discussed long-term strategies on this issue because we’re always reacting. We’re always reacting to the next tragedy. We’re always reacting to the next election.
Ceraso said one source of inspiration is the Republican effort to reduce abortion rights.
“Republicans have had great success throwing all kinds of stuff against the wall, locally, statewide, nationally and in court,” Ceraso said. “They just throw things against the wall, and the majority of them don’t stick. and then something sticks and that’s how we have, for example, all these restrictions on reproductive health care.
Murdock, who represents Durham, North Carolina, said his move to ban gun sales near schools was prompted by the two recent mass shootings as well as an unrelated shooting involving a child in 4 years.
Murdock and other advocates of banning gun sales near schools point to a 2020 study of the effects of gun stores located near schools in Orange County, CA. The researchers found that proximity significantly increased the likelihood of students bringing a gun to campus.
Murdock contacted members of the city council and state legislators across the country. She hopes at least 100 lawmakers will commit to introducing similar bans by the end of the summer.
Murdock and others have made it clear that part of the Democrats’ goal is to force Republicans into a difficult political position by emphasizing school safety.
“If Republicans are against that, they’re literally arguing that they want more guns closer to schools,” Aydin said. “We think it’s an impossible position for them.”
The North Carolina Republican Party and Republican leaders in the state legislature declined to comment on the proposal, saying they were waiting for Murdock to formally introduce his legislation before commenting. The Washington Post provided both the party and the legislative leadership with a copy of the legislation, but they still refused to discuss it. Neither the National Rifle Association nor the South Carolina Republican Party responded to multiple requests for comment.
For Mark-Anthony Middleton, Durham’s nonpartisan caretaker mayor who is lobbying the city council to pass a resolution backing Murdock’s legislation, the effort isn’t about restricting gun rights, it’s about making something to address the increase in gun deaths among children. According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, firearm-related incidents are now the leading cause of death among children and adolescents.
“I own guns. I support the second amendment. It’s not about depriving people of their guns,” Middleton said. “I hope this will spark a national discussion, or at least add another element to the national discussion, about how we can protect our children, because I don’t think Second Amendment protection and life protection of our children are mutually exclusive. ”