Cassie Bernall, 17. Steven Curnow, 14. Corey DePooter, 17. Kelly Fleming, 16. Matthew Kechter, 16. Daniel Mauser, 15. Daniel Rohrbough, 15. William Dave Sanders, 47. Rachel Scott, 17. Isaiah Shoels, 18. John Tomlin, 16. Lauren Townsend, 18. Kyle Velasquez, 16. Derrick Brun, 28. Dewayne Lewis, 15. Daryl Lussier, 58. Chase Lussier, 15. Neva Rogers, 62.
Chanelle Rosebear, 15. Michelle Sigana, 32. Thurlene Stillday, 15. Alicia White, 15. Naomi Rose Ebersol, 7. Marian Stoltzfus Fisher, 13. Lena Zook Miller, 7. Mary Liz Miller, 8. Anna Mae Stoltzfus, 12. Ross Alameddine, 20. Jamie Bishop, 35. Brian Bluhm, 25. Ryan Clark, 22. Austin Cloyd, 18.
Jocelyne Couture-Nowak, 49. Daniel Perez Cuevas, 21. Kevin Granata, 45. Matthew Gwaltney, 24. Caitlin Hammaren, 19. Jeremy Herbstritt, 27. Rachael Hill, 18. Emily Hilscher, 19. Matthew La Porte, 20. Jarrett Lane, 22. Henry Lee, 20. Liviu Librescu, 76. Partahi Lombantoruan, 34.
Lauren McCain, 20. Daniel O’Neil, 22. Juan Ramon Ortiz, 26. G.V. Palanivel, 51. Minal Panchal, 26. Erin Peterson, 18. Michael Pohle, 23. Julia Pryde, 23. Mary Read, 19. Reema Samaha, 18.
Waleed Mohamed Shaalan, 32. Leslie Sherman, 20. Maxine Turner, 22. Nicole White, 20
Gayle Dubowski, 20.Catalina Garcia, 20. Julianna Gehant, 32. Ryanne Mace, 19. Daniel Parmenter, 20. Tshering Bhutia, 38. Doris Chibuko, 40. Sonam Choedon, 33. Grace Kim, 23.
Katleen Ping, 24. Judith Seymour, 53. Lydia Sim, 21. Charlotte Helen Bacon, 6. Daniel Barden, 7. Rachel D’Avino, 29. Olivia Rose Engel, 6. Josephine Gay, 7. Dawn Hochsprung, 47.
Dylan Hockley, 6. Madeleine F. Hsu, 6. Catherine V. Hubbard, 6. Chase Kowalski, 7.
Nancy Lanza, 52. Jesse Lewis, 6. Ana Grace Marquez-Greene, 6. James Mattioli, 6.
Grace McDonnell, 7. Anne Marie Murphy, 52. Emilie Parker, 6. Jack Pinto, 6. Noah Pozner, 6.
Caroline Previdi, 6. Jessica Rekos, 6. Avielle Richman, 6. Lauren Rousseau, 30. Mary Sherlach, 56. Victoria Soto, 27. Benjamin Wheeler, 6. Allison Wyatt, 6. George Chen, 19. Katherine Cooper, 22. Cheng Yuan Hong, 20. Christopher Ross Michaels-Martinez, 20. Weihan Wang, 20
Veronika Weiss, 19. Shaylee Chuckulnaskit, 14. Andrew Fryberg, 15. Zoe Galasso, 14. Gia Soriano, 14. Lucero Alcaraz, 19. Treven Taylor Anspach, 20. Rebecka Ann Carnes, 18.
Quinn Glen Cooper, 18. Kim Saltmarsh Dietz, 59. Lucas Eibel, 18. Jason Dale Johnson, 33.
Lawrence Levine, 67. Sarena Dawn Moore, 44. Alyssa Alhadeff, 14. Martin Duque Anguiano, 14. Scott Beigel, 35. Nicholas Dworet, 17. Aaron Feis, 37. Jaime Guttenberg, 14. Christopher Hixon, 49. Luke Hoyer, 15. Cara Loughran, 14. Gina Montalto, 14. Joaquin Oliver, 17. Alaina Petty, 14. Meadow Pollack, 18. Helena Ramsay, 17. Alex Schachter, 14. Carmen Schentrup, 16.
Peter Wang, 15. Jared Black, 17. Shana Fisher, 16. Christian Riley Garcia, 15. Kyle McLeod, 15. Ann Perkins, 64. Angelique Ramirez, 15. Sabika Sheikh, 18. Chris Stone, 17. Cynthia Tisdale, 63. Kimberly Vaughan, 14. Madisyn Baldwin, 17. Tate Myre, 16. Justin Shilling, 17. Hana St. Juliana, 14. Nevaeh Bravo, 10. Jacklyn Cazares, 9. Makenna Lee Elrod, 10.
Jose Flores Jr., 10. Irma Garcia, 48. Uziyah Garcia, 8. Eliana “Ellie” Garcia, 9. Amerie Jo Garza, 10. Xavier Lopez, 10. Jayce Carmelo Luevanos, 10. Tess Marie Mata, 10. Miranda Mathis, 11. Eva Mireles, 44. Alithia Ramirez, 10. Annabelle Guadalupe Rodriguez, 10. Maite Yuleana Rodríguez, 10. Alexandria “Lexi” Aniyah Rubio, 10. Layla Salazar, 11. Jailah Nicole Silguero, 10.
Eliahana Cruz Torres, 10. Rojelio Torres, 10. Arielle Anderson, 19. Alexandria Verner, 20. Brian Fraser, 20.
Let’s be honest: You didn’t read every name on the list above, did you?
I’m not being critical. It’s just the way we are now – inured to the incessant slaughter of our children, friends, coworkers, fellow worshippers and shoppers.
You may have figured out that what’s above is a list of all of the people shot and killed in school shootings since the Columbine High massacre in 1999 — mostly children and young people, as you can tell by the ages. I pulled it from a story by the TV station Channel 10 in Boston (ncboston.com), and I thank them for the public service of compiling these names and other details on the shootings.
As their list ended in May of 2022, I added in the most recent mass school shooting, the one at Michigan State University on Feb. 13 that claimed three lives. In all, it represents 172 people murdered by angry, unbalanced humans who much too easily got hold of firearms.
Undoubtedly, there are more names that could go on the list. For instance, the list does not include the April 2019 shooting at UNC-Charlotte that left Waynesville resident Riley Howell dead, after he tackled the gunman in a heroic attempt to disarm him. Another student, Ellis Parlier, of Midland, also died, and four other students were injured.
And keep in mind this is just school shootings. It doesn’t begin to touch all the mass shootings at churches, synagogues, military bases, concerts, Walmarts, shopping malls, people’s homes, grocery stores and more.
Our country has a sickness, and we won’t admit it. It’s the proliferation of guns, and the ridiculously easy access we as a nation have permitted to these very efficient killing tools.
I say this as a gun owner and a concealed carry permit holder who enjoys recreational shooting and feels gun ownership is protected by the Second Amendment.
But that amendment, like all the rest, is not absolute. And its meaning has been twisted and misconstrued by the gun lobby and Americans who believe their right to own a firearm trumps a student’s right to grow up.
Here’s what it says: “A well regulated Militia, being necessary to the security of a free State, the right of the people to keep and bear Arms, shall not be infringed.”
In colonial America, our country needed state militias to protect our country from other countries (Great Britain mostly), as well as other foes. Regular citizens were called to serve in the militia, and they had to have their own guns – at the time a flintlock rifle or pistol that took a good 20 seconds to load and fire.
I don’t see how any reasonable person can assert the framers of the Constitution had in mind giving the green light to a nutjob with a semi-automatic, high-powered rifle who wanted to mow down an entire room full of students — and then reload another 30-round magazine in a matter of seconds to continue the killing spree.
The General Assembly heads the wrong way
So yes, I’m baffled and disheartened that our great North Carolina state legislature is moving ahead with a law that would scrap a requirement that the local sheriff sign off a person who wants to buy a handgun, as the Associated Press reported last week.
“The firearms bill would also allow people with a concealed weapons permit — separate from the pistol purchase permit — to carry a gun while attending religious services at a private school or some charter schools. Permitted gun owners can already carry at standalone church buildings if the congregation allows it,” the AP reported.
The bill also contains a two-year education campaign on the safe storage of guns. That’s a common sense law, in my opinion.
Ironically, State Sen. Danny Earl Britt Jr. (R-Robeson County), the bill’s chief sponsor, said of the overall proposal that it’s “common-sense laws to ensure that the rights of law-abiding citizens are not being infringed.”
Sweet Jesus. It’s amazing to me how folks like Britt truly believe their ability to buy guns is under threat. We have over 400 million guns in America.
As the AP story notes, Republican senators approved the bill 29-19, along party lines.
I can’t believe this needs saying, but while we’re standing knee deep in the blood of our children, we don’t need to loosen gun laws in our country. What is wrong with our national psyche that we don’t push back with all of might against this lunacy, which crops up in state after state across the nation?
As I mentioned, I have a concealed carry permit. I got it in part to go through the experience as a citizen and then write about it. I also carried a handgun for a few weeks to get a real feel for the experience. I safely store guns in my home.
I don’t think guns should be taken away from people. Hey, good luck trying to confiscate 400 million firearms from Americans anyway.
Different people read that tricky second amendment in different ways, and the Supreme Court has ruled that individuals have the right to gun ownership. That’s not going away.
What we’re doing isn’t working
My argument is this: What we’re doing in this country regarding guns clearly is not working. We have mass shootings (four or more people shot) with absurd frequency.
USA Today reported Feb. 15 that the U.S. has already had 71 mass shootings in 2023 — in six weeks. Edweek.com reports America had 51 school shootings in 2022, with 40 people killed. America had 20,221 homicides/murders last year, according to gunviolencearchive.org
So to continue doing what we’re doing is the very definition of insanity, as is loosening gun restrictions.
The pistol purchase requirement in North Carolina does date to Reconstruction and was designed in part to keep minorities from owning handguns. But today, it serves a valuable purpose – another layer of permitting, beyond the federal gun check, to buy a gun.
Requiring the Sheriff to sign off on your gun purchase also adds another layer of security to help keep total nutjobs from buying guns.
For the record, Buncombe County Sheriff Quentin Miller opposes this new legislation that would do away with the requirement.
“Let me be clear that I do not support the N.C. General Assembly bill to end pistol purchase permits,” Miller told me via email. “I strongly believe that background checks are important and necessary. This is an important responsibility of the Sheriff’s Office and I hope this bill will not become law.”
Yes, let’s hope Gov. Roy Cooper vetoes this turkey of a bill, although Republicans may have enough votes, if a few Democrats get on board, to override him.
Look, I have bought pistols after getting a pistol purchase permit from the Sheriff. It’s a nuisance, honestly, but it’s also another layer of protection for society.
The second amendment doesn’t say your access to guns has to be easy, or super-convenient. I’d argue it’s too easy and convenient now, and the system does little to weed out mentally imbalanced people.
Honestly, what I’d like to see is a set of requirements very similar to the concealed carry law to be able to buy any gun. That would mean you have to pass a background check from the Sheriff’s Office, have a doctor sign off on your sanity, agree to be fingerprinted, and take a class in responsible gun handling and storage.
In all, it took me about six weeks to get the permit in Henderson County.
The greatest lesson I learned from my instructor was this: “Just carry pepper spray.” He wisely told us that if you shoot someone, you’re likely to be charged with some kind of offense, have to spend thousands of dollars on a lawyer and spend a year in legal limbo.
And you have to live with having killed a person.
Universal background checks rejected
State Sen. Julie Mayfield (D-Buncombe County) voted against the Senate Bill Feb. 16.
“Democrats offered four amendments that would have enacted protections supported by a majority of the public, including universal background checks, preventing someone in crisis from acquiring a gun, and prohibiting convicted domestic abusers from obtaining guns,” Mayfield said in a post on her Facebook page, which included the statement she read on the Senate floor. “All were rejected by Senate Republicans who seem more intent on making guns more widely available rather than better protecting our communities.”
Mayfield said she asked what problems the pistol purchase permit provision was trying to solve. She said she got three answers:
– Some sheriffs were not acting on the applications in a timely manner.
– Because of that delay, some people who are seeking firearms for personal protection might not be able to acquire them.
– The local level of review did not add anything meaningful to the existing federal background check system.
On the speed of getting a permit, Mayfield said steps can be taken to expedite the process.
I’ll note that having to wait a few weeks to get a gun, in part to weed out unbalanced applicants, is worth it in my book.
Then Mayfield laid down some real truth.
“I suggest to you that this bill has nothing to do with delay or concerns about people not being able to acquire firearms in a timely manner,” she said in the Senate. “Rather, this bill is pushing the national narrative that the second amendment is supreme, and cannot be limited in any way. But we all know, or should know, that no constitutional right, even the second one, can stand alone without any limitation.”
Mayfield also noted that in Buncombe County last year, the Sheriff’s Office got over 2,700 pistol permit applications, and all but 63 were granted. That’s a 2 percent denial rate.
“The reasons for those denials indicate how important the local review is and that the federal background check system is not sufficient to catch everyone,” Mayfield said. “The federal database is only as good as the data in it, and local law-enforcement can do a more thorough check from local sources.”
Denials included someone who was a fugitive from justice, one person in the country unlawfully, seven people on active probation, eight with domestic violence convictions or protective orders in place, 17 people convicted of felonies, and 16 determined to be mentally ill or involuntarily committed.
Of the 63 people denied permits in Buncombe, Mayfield said, only nine were denied because the federal database flagged them.
Do you want these folks walking around with handguns?
“The pistol permit requirement prevented over 40 violent and/or mentally ill people from legally purchasing a handgun last year in my community,” Mayfield said. “Now that’s not many, but that’s kind of the point. This permitting requirement is not onerous and it does not unduly infringe on anyone’s right to purchase a firearm.”
More guns than people
Folks, we simply do not infringe on your right to bear arms in this country. We’re swimming in guns.
The National Shooting Sports Foundation reported in 2020 that the United States has 20 million AR-15-style weapons in circulation.
Small Arms Survey, a Geneva-based organization, reported in 2018 that the U.S. had over 393 million guns in circulation, a number that undoubtedly has risen by millions. We have more guns than people here.
As Bloomberg reported last May, America has 120.5 firearms per 100 residents, and we’re the “only country with more civilian-owned firearms than people.”
Not surprisingly, mass shootings are on the rise in the United States — 640 in 2022, and 690 in 2021, according to a BBC report. In 2014, the number was 273.
Again, your right to own a gun has not been infringed in this country. I think people wanting to buy a gun can endure a little more inconvenience when going to buy a weapon that can kill a church or classroom full of people.
That inconvenience might just keep guns out of the hands of people with bad intent. Yes, stricter requirements may add a little time to the gun-buying process.
Hey, maybe you could use that time to read each name listed at the top of this column.
Asheville Watchdog is a nonprofit news team producing stories that matter to Asheville and Buncombe County. John Boyle has been covering Asheville and surrounding communities since the 20th century. You can reach him at 828-337-0941, or via email at email@example.com