RALEIGH, N.C. (WNCN) – A Democratic state legislator re-introduced a bill Tuesday that could temporarily limit some people’s access to guns, even after she received death threats for filing a similar bill last year.
Rep. Marcia Morey (D-Durham) wants North Carolina to adopt “extreme risk protection orders.”
It’s more commonly known as a red-flag law. Under her bill, a family or household member, as well as a law enforcement officer, could ask a judge to temporarily remove a person’s guns if that person is deemed dangerous to themselves or others.
“I’m a gun owner. My family are gun owners. My grandfather was in the NRA. It’s not about denying people the rights,” said Morey.
Fourteen other states and Washington, D.C., have adopted similar laws, according to the Educational Fund to Stop Gun Violence. The concept gained momentum following the mass shooting in Parkland, Florida, last year.
“It’s about protecting rights, but protecting our citizens as well. We’re not gonna go in and snatch people’s weapons,” said Durham Sheriff Clarence Birkhead.
Dean Turnage, manager of Hunter’s Haven in Rolesville, said he had concerns about the potential for this to be abused.
“Because somebody’s mad with you and says, ‘Oh, he’s got mental issues.’ And, they can come and take them and you’ve got to prove that you’re mentally capable of taking them,” he said.
Morey said under her bill it would be a class 2 misdemeanor to make false statements when petitioning for an extreme risk protection order.
Gov. Roy Cooper (D) said he supports this kind of legislation earlier this year, as did a committee he formed to study school shootings. The committee was co-chaired by former Wake County Sheriff Donnie Harrison and Gaston County Sheriff Alan Cloninger.
A study published last year found that in Indiana firearm suicides dropped by 7.5 percent in the 10 years after the state’s red-flag went into effect.
“Enactment of Connecticut’s law was associated with a 1.6% reduction in firearm suicides immediately after its passage and a 13.7% reduction in firearm suicides in the post–Virginia Tech period, when enforcement of the law substantially increased,” the study’s authors wrote.
As Morey discussed the bill at a press conference, a group of students from across the state met with legislators as they launched a new initiative called “Lobby for Our Lives.”
Nico Gleason, a high school student from Greensboro, said it grew out of the “March for Our Lives” movement.
“We need to do something about this,” he said. “I always have in every class, if a shooter came in, what exit would I take? Where would I go?”
Morey filed a similar bill last year, but it didn’t advance in the General Assembly. She said she received death threats.
“I got emails, yeah. It was not a comfortable time. I had to have the sheriff’s office come and do a little surveillance around my house. And, they were credible threats,” she said.
Last year, the NRA announced support for red-flag laws after previously opposing them. However, the organization also had a series of conditions required to support individual states’ laws, including what they view to be adequate due process protections. The NRA posted a video on YouTube which includes those conditions in a series of bullet points beneath the video.
Among them, “An order should only be granted when a judge makes the determination, by clear and convincing evidence, that the person poses a significant risk of danger to themselves or others.”