Gun laws

How a new North Carolina gun law hurts women and teens

Sarah Hunt is a 15 year old sophomore from North Carolina who is participating in Progress Women’s “Legis-Ladies” project, which is aimed at getting more young women involved in politics. Below is her first article on how a new North Carolina gun law hurts women and teenagers.

Americans have been demanding gun reform from legislators for years. While many local and state governments have been passing laws that restrict the use of guns in certain places or making it harder to obtain a gun, North Carolina did the exact opposite. Last July, H.B. 937 or “The Act to Amend State Firearm Laws” was passed by North Carolina’s General Assembly and signed into law by Governor Pat McCrory; the law went into effect last October. The law has been given praise from pro-gun activists and organizations—such as Grassroots NC—but for progressives across the state and the country, it has been a defeat in the battle to create a safer America. The law is controversial for the fact that it allows concealed weapons in more public places, and allows gun owners to have more concealed weapons. While many Americans believe that guns can be used to safely protect themselves, it simply hurting Americans, especially women and teenagers.

The act allows for concealed weapon holders to keep their weapons in their cars on school and college campuses, even though school shootings are happening more often. Concealed weapon holders can now have their weapons at funerals, parks, parades, and other public places, even restaurants that serve alcohol. The act states that gun owners cannot consume alcohol if they have a concealed weapon. Restaurants can ban concealed weapons in their restaurants, but many are being boycotted by pro-gun groups.The act also made public records of handgun purchases and permits illegal, and sheriffs cannot limit the amount of permits a person can have. However, the act does improve the reporting of individuals who cannot buy a weapon, to the National Instant Criminal Background Check System (NCIS) and increased punishments for violators. This act is controversial and makes everyone wonder, “Do more guns create a safer society?”

NRA Executive vice President Wayne LaPierre seems to believe so, as he was quoted saying, “The only thing that stops a bad guy with a gun is a good guy with a gun. Would you rather have your 911 call bring a good guy with a gun from a mile away … or a minute away?”

Millions of Americans believe that more guns is the answer to stopping bad guys everywhere, but it is not factual. More guns rarely stop crime, with only 261 justifiable homicides committed in 2011.  When believing that more guns is the answer, it is the like using the argument that “more cars on the road would prevent car accidents” .

Despite recent violence at schools and public places, women have been at the forefront for pro-gun rights.The NRA claims that if women had guns it would protect them against predators. In fact, more guns do not help women, they hurt us. 94% of roughly 17,000 women are murdered by a man they knew. The most common weapon is a gun. When guns are involved in domestic violence situations, women are 5 times more likely to be shot and killed.  But, when states enforce stricter background checks, 38% of fewer women are killed. Ladies, we need to stand up for stricter gun laws.

Not only should women be standing up against gun violence, so should fellow teenagers. Teen violence is happening at an alarming rate. With guns being easily available, teenagers are able to commit more violent crimes. 86% of teen homicides include a firearm. Firearm death is also the second leading cause of death from people aged 1-19.The minimum age in most states to purchase a gun is 18, yet young teenagers still have access to guns. Teenagers may find guns in their homes, or get them from friends, or other sources. Most teenagers have grown up in a gun crazed society, and nearly one in four teenagers have witnessed a shooting. To many teenagers guns can be seen as almost as toys and not taken in a serious manner. To prevent this, we need to have open discussions in our schools and our homes about gun violence, and proper gun safety.

While many gun supporters have noted that guns are needed to defend ourselves in case of a domestic attack, women and teenagers are often the most vulnerable to gun violence. We need to speak up about the dangers of gun violence, and how it impacts our society. Contact your legislators and tell them we need gun safety laws. We cannot stay quiet about gun violence, and we cannot have the mentality that gun violence will never happen to us, because it can. It happens to thousands of Americans every year. One American lost to gun violence is one too many