Make it about guns

by | Jun 3, 2022 | Editor's Blog | 8 comments

Last night, Joe Biden gave the speech the country needed to hear about gun control. In the wake of a spate of mass shootings that included the slaughter of 19 school children in Uvalde, Texas, he asked a simple question. “How much more carnage are we willing to accept?” It’s a question most of the nation wants answered.

Biden told us what he wants to see happen. He wants an outright ban on assault weapons like the one we had for a decade during 1990s and first part of this century. Short of that, he wants to raise the age to buy assault weapons to 21 years old. He wants restrictions on high-capacity magazines. He wants background checks. He wants red flag laws that can keep guns out of the hands of dangerous or mentally unstable people. He wants common sense reforms that most Americans want, too. 

I’m dubious that much will happen. Republicans in the Senate may allow expanded background checks, but that’s probably about it. However, polling shows that the reforms Biden mentioned have broad political support, even among a significant portion of the GOP. Democrats should make access to guns the central issue of their campaign. Given the political environment, they have little to lose. 

Right now, inflation and gas prices are voters’ top concerns and neither are problems that Biden or anybody else can do much to influence, at least not in the five months between now and election day. Democrats desperately need to change the focus of the political conversation and right now they have an opportunity. Biden’s speech tonight gave them a jumping off point. 

Democrats should contrast their vision for America with that of Republicans. For decades, Republicans have told us that mass shootings are the price of freedom. Active shooter drills in schools should be a way of life. They want us to apply the theory of mutually assured destruction to our neighborhoods–that living in fear of our neighbors is the surest path to safety. Their dystopian view has become reality and it’s failed our country. 

As Biden said last night, “Enough!” Instead of a package of reforms, Democrats should offer individual measures to prevent gun violence and force Republicans to take vote after vote, holding debates that last through the summer. They should begin with an assault weapons ban, move to high capacity magazines, then red flag laws, and end with background checks. They should define Republicans as a party willing to sacrifice our children and families to appease an extremist base and the gun lobby. 

In North Carolina, Cheri Beasley’s campaign should set the stage. She has a perfect foil as an opponent. Ted Budd is a gun dealer who opposes any measures to curb gun violence. He believes we should arm more people. He’s both a gun nut and gun profiteer. He’s on the wrong side of the debate in the wake of Uvalde, Buffalo, and Tulsa and Beasley should not let him off the hook. 

Conventional wisdom among Democrats in North Carolina has been to stay away from talking about guns, but the political sands are shifting. Even Civitas has a poll from 2019 showing almost 60% of North Carolina voters believe gun laws are not strict enough. I suspect that number is higher in the wake of the recent events.

In 2014, Kay Hagan almost beat the red tide that year by making the election about Thom Tillis’ record on education. Her campaign avoided the broader national conversation and kept their message focused on the former House Speaker and his opposition to raising teacher pay or adequately funding schools. Beasley should do the same with Budd and guns. He’s bragged about his opposition to any effort to restrict access to guns and she should make him own it.

To win in this environment, Beasley needs to be opportunistic and take risks. This one is a good bet and she might not get another opportunity. If she wins, she’ll be a hero. If she’s loses, she’ll go down on the side of the angels. 


  1. TC

    “In these sentiments, sir, I agree to this Constitution with all its faults, if they are such; because I think a general government necessary for us, there is no Form of Government but what may be a blessing to the People if well administered; and I believe farther that this is likely to be well administered for a course of years, and can only end in Despotism as other forms have done before it, when the people shall become so corrupted as to need Despotic Government, being incapable of any other.” ~ Ben Franklin, “From Benjamin Franklin: Speech in the Convention on the Constitution (unpublished) Mon, Sep 17, 1787

    Truly. We, as a nation exist on the foundational basis of a document so basic in it’s premise and yet so adaptive and far-reaching in its’ application the minds who drafted it thought it perfect. We came close to losing this republic or at best, having it dismantled before our eyes just a scant few years ago. We are not free and clear of that threat now. Indeed, it lingers at the fringes and grows by the day and conspiracy. And yet, we find ourselves in the midst of, among other things, a call for the amendment of the Bill of Rights.

    I find the belief naive that, at the very least, upon the declaration of a ban on certain types of weapons that the carnage will suddenly abate itself. That the lust, hate, and insanity that drives those that pick up those weapons to wreak harm upon others will wither with the supply of semiautomatic weapons. That is what I read on practically every news outlet and read in every opinion piece and editorial. Ban, control, and otherwise vilify the mechanism and do nothing to address the behavior that wields it. I likewise find myself wondering, after such an amendment to the Bill of Rights has taken place, which one will be next? After all, the first 10 were written and ratified as a group and as such, are just as dated and representative of a time well past as any included in that list.

    Rights are not limitless and as such, be tailored but impose as little imposition as possible while maintaining the basic rights we all enjoy. So what is to be done? Well certainly banning these weapons is an exercise in futility. I proffer that these types of weapons should be classified until Title II of the National Gun Control Act of 1968. Doing so does several things immediately. It automatically limits the availability of these weapons. Only certain weapons dealers and sell Title II firearms. You have to be 21 in order to purchase this type of weapon. You have to apply for a Federal Tax stamp and be fingerprinted and go through a through background check prior to the transfer and before it will be approved. There’s your cooling off period and your more comprehensive background check. Access is controlled not denied.

    Will that stop the carnage? No, regretfully. It doesn’t address the behavior either. We have to face fact; the implement offers convenience and ease. It does nothing about the determination and fanaticism of the individual. Remove one implement and there will be another.

    But the call to action is strong. I understand it. I too want the harm to innocents to be thwarted, prevented, brought to a screeching halt. We all want that. In the rush to action, since this will likely be the only thing that is done to address this contagion for some time to come, let us do something to address the behavior as well. We have to stop putting individuals back in the community that pose a substantial risk to harm others. Do we need to expand the number of psychiatric beds again in North Carolina? Absolutely. And yes, at some point we must face the fact that we are going to have to permanently institutionalize some individuals that will simply never be a viable member of society due to their mental illness or because they pose a substantive risk to society at large. Is that a crime? It isn’t. But you can think of it as a “red flag” law for people…and their behavior. The real perpetrator of violence.

  2. simphiwemotsukunyane5256

    Please make it about guns. Please that would be the best gift ever!

  3. Russ Becker

    As a start, if a citizen who wished to own a gun had to meet the same requirements as those of a citizen to drive a vehicle, it would be a tremendous change. Why should we regulate driving so strongly, and then allow weapons actually meant to kill to be unrestricted?

  4. Kycowboy

    The constitution has been amended 27 times which says a lot. The framers could not imagine the types of guns that are now on the market and the destruction they pose. Is there really any reasonable need for semi- automatic weapons in the hands of citizens? Hunting with a semi- automatic gun takes out the sport . Target practice does not require a semi- automatic gun. Take all AR-15s off the market including buying back the 15 million already out there and ban all future sales. I think God would say that lives are more sacred than anyone’s right to own a gun but the conservatives say otherwise even though they claim they are pro-life. Yes never let people forget the destruction caused by guns. When I came back from Vietnam I sold my gun. I never have felt a need for one since.
    Yes keep the focus on guns and other issues like income inequality.

  5. bremerjennifer

    Gee, I wonder how many crimes have been committed using guns sold by Budd? Maybe somebody could look into that. How’s his compliance with requirements for sale of weapons? Has he sold AR-15-style weapons to teenagers?

  6. Andy Stevens

    In the urban counties NC Democrats consider modern leftist utopias the numbers of citizens seeking Pistol Purchase and Concealed Handguns permits have gone through the roof. How have the “woke” urban sheriff’s responded? By delaying, denying and outright refusing to issue them. So bad has it become that gun rights organizations Grass Roots North Carolina ( and Gun Owners of America ( found it necessary to sue Wake County Sheriff Baker (twice!) and Mecklenburg Count Sheriff McFarland….winning injunctions against both.

    Yes, please make the November elections all about firearms and the right of law abiding citizens not to be harassed and treated like criminals merly for want to exercise a constitutional and natural right to keep and bear arms.

    • Robin

      Shooters in Buffalo, Uvalde and Tulsa all had legal guns…but maybe had there been a cooling off period between the time the “bought” the gun to the time the shot a bunch of people they may haven’t had done it. What most of us are saying is: Do you need that assault rifle? Do you need 500 high capacity round? Should you be able to buy as much ammo as you want without any checks? Are you mentally able to put that gun away when you get angry? Shouldn’t you have to pass a firearm safety test before you can take full possession of a gun? If you are a danger to yourself or someone else, shouldn’t law enforcement hold your gun? How does any of this infringe on 2a? As many advocates forget, it’s a well-regulated militia that has the right to bear arms…we just want it well-regulated.

    • Kayman

      Mecklenburg County sheriff’s name is McFadden not McFarland. At least get the sheriff of the Carolina’s true largest, most urban, and most densely developed county name right of you’re going to attempt to throw shade.

Related Posts


Get the latest posts from PoliticsNC delivered right to your inbox!

You have Successfully Subscribed!