RALEIGH, N.C. (WNCN) – Clydia Davis spent what would have been her son’s 24th birthday traveling from Charlotte to Raleigh calling for state leaders to take action to curb gun violence.
Donqwavias “Qway” Davis was shot and killed in Charlotte the day after the mass shooting at UNC-Charlotte in a separate, unrelated incident.
Seeing the devastation those shootings caused to her family and others, Clydia Davis decided she couldn’t be silent.
“This is a never-ending situation for us,” she said. “Life is life. Human life is the most valuable thing on this Earth. And, they need to help us find a way to preserve it.”
Community activists joined her outside the General Assembly Friday, calling for various changes such as universal background checks for gun purchases.
They also spoke against a bill that moved forward this week that would repeal the state’s pistol purchase permit law, which dates back to 1919. People who buy handguns in North Carolina are required to get a permit from the sheriff’s office, which also conducts background checks.
Paul Valone, president of Grass Roots North Carolina, said recent improvements to data submitted to the National Instant Criminal Background Check System have made that unnecessary.
“We’ve improved our reporting of involuntary commitments and mental health records that now have to be reported within 48 hours in the last few years … allowing these sheriffs to access older mental health data,” Valone said. “So, the increased reporting does in fact make the permit system duplicative.”
The North Carolina Sheriff’s Association announced its support of the bill this week, but Wake County Sheriff Gerald Baker said he is not backing it.
“We need every inch of accountability to who’s going to be possessing a handgun,” he said.
Valone pointed to a recent analysis published in the North Carolina Law Review showing the Wake County Sheriff’s Office disproportionately rejected Black applicants compared to white applicants.
His group also sued Baked last year over delays with his office processing applications amid a surge in gun sales.
“This is a bad law. It’s been a bad law for generations. And, we’re thrilled that the sheriff’s association has finally decided to support repealing it,” Valone said.
Leah Krevat, of Apex, spoke against the bill at Friday’s rally. It’s not clear when it’ll be up for a vote in the House of Representatives.
“We don’t want this bill to get to the floor of the Legislature. North Carolina needs to reject this bill that weakens the authority that local sheriffs have to reject permits,” she said.