WILMINGTON, NC (WWAY) — A day after the 25th fatal school shooting in the United States since Columbine, we wanted to know what the people who represent us in Washington and Raleigh are doing to try and make sure it doesn’t happen again.
We reached out to each member of southeastern North Carolina’s congressional and legislative delegation. Here are their responses:
Sen. Richard Burr (R)
In a statement, Burr’s Press Secretary Ben Khouri said Burr “deeply believes we must prevent guns from getting into the hands of those seeking to do harm but we must do so without violating the rights of law-abiding Americans. He has supported strengthening the National Instant Criminal Background Check System as well as numerous mental health bills during his time in Congress.
“Sen. Burr also supports and has voted for legislation to ensure that all appropriate records are in the system that our government uses to conduct federal background checks for people who are trying to purchase a gun. We must be able to efficiently and effectively screen would-be gun buyers for mental problems and criminal convictions. Sen. Burr has also voted for legislation to prevent terrorists from getting guns, while also making sure American citizens have a right to due process.
“Additionally, Sen. Burr understands the need to strengthen our mental health system. He voted for the Mental Health Awareness and Improvement Act in September 2015. This measure would reauthorize programs increasing awareness and prevention of early signs of mental health conditions.”
Sen. Thom Tillis (R)
“We must ensure firearms are staying out of the wrong hands, and last year I co-sponsored bipartisan legislation that would enhance compliance and accuracy of the background check system to keep firearms away from criminals.”
Rep. Robert Pittenger (R-3rd District)
“Nikolas Cruz passed a background check. So did Dylann Roof, due to an FBI error. The focus on additional gun control is a case of misplaced priorities. America needs to focus on the root causes of violence by addressing mental health and the glorification of carnage in games, movies, and music. Violence is a matter of the heart, yet many wish to dismiss morality and values from the public square. We are dealing with the result.
“While deployment of Student Resource Officers is a state and local issue, as Chairman of the Congressional Task Force on Terrorism and a strong advocate of law enforcement, I believe they perform a vital service.”
Rep. David Rouzer (R-7th District)
“Honestly I don’t think there is much Congress can do that would address tragedies such as Florida or any other tragedy for that matter. This is a matter of hearts and minds.”
Sen. Danny Britt (R-Columbus County)
Sen. Michael Lee (R-New Hanover County)
“While all the facts about the event in Florida are still being determined, it appears the incident was caused by the intersection of mental illness and a firearm. While I have introduced legislation to find ways for patients and caregivers to better navigate a complicated mental health system, I do not have an immediate solution to prevent a tragedy like this from occurring in every situation. I will be reaching out to the same mental health and law enforcement professionals I reached out to in pulling together the mental health navigation program to see if this issue can be addressed within the process they are already creating or if another program should be explored.”
Sen. Bill Rabon (R-Brunswick County)
“Making the schools safer. I think our officials everywhere are doing all they can. Are we going to have to completely lock them down? I don’t know. But we do have to do everything we can to ensure that our children are safe not only in school but in our parks, in our theaters. Everywhere they go. I think we have a huge mental health problem throughout our nation and in this state.”
“A simple solution? One-stop shop to fix all? No I don’t. I think it is something that we see in society today and I don’t know that we can completely change society. I don’t know that we can remove the sick individuals or the potentials. The people that are potentially a hazard that we can remove them all. I know that no one can see this or even think about it and not just get cold chills. It could have been in North Carolina, South Carolina, Hawaii. It’s just a horrible, horrible thing.”
Rep. William Brisson (R-Bladen County)
Rep. Deb Butler (D-New Hanover County)
“If you understand the statistics about gun violence in this country, we must speak about changes necessary in this country. We are as likely to be robbed as in the UK but 53 times more likely to die at the hands of gun violence during that robbery.”
“I will absolutely support far more stringent background checks, more funding for mental health care, will support any legislation that puts reasonable controls on gun ownership.”
“In the last session we tried to put forward amendments to strengthen measures and were defeated. Until we have votes in the NC Legislature these bills are not going anywhere.
“Leadership made it clear they’re in the pockets of the NRA.
“I’m happy to draft legislation. It won’t go anywhere, but that don’t mean we won’t keep trying.”
Rep. Ted Davis (R-New Hanover County)
“You look at firearms, you look at bills we’ve had in Raleigh about, that address firearms, I’ve been a big proponent that someone who wants to purchase a firearm have a background check, I believe they should receive training, so that when someone does have a firearm, it’s been vetted and is someone who is mentally and physically able to posses a gun and use it lawful.”
“Some of (the gun) bills (introduced recently) want to do away with background checks, they want to do away with requirements for education. I am against that. I am a very staunch supporter of it that people should receive proper training and be qualified before issued a gun permit.”
Rep. Holly Grange (R-New Hanover County)
“I’m going to go back to Raleigh, and we’re going to have some discussions about this. We’re not in a bubble, but I’m telling you what we do now in Wilmington with, as an example Wilmington Health Access for Teens, I think that’s a start.”
“Yes we do need action, but it needs to be a community effort. It can’t just be the legislator, can’t just be the county commissioners, it can’t just be the mental health system, it can’t just be law enforcement. It needs to be a community effort because that’s what it takes.”
“It’s got to be a community effort and everyone needs to do their part including the legislator to answer your question.”
“Well, I don’t know that there’s a way that we can make sure things like this don’t happen again. I don’t think that’s possible, but we can certainly minimize things like this happening again.”
Rep. Frank Iler (R-Brunswick County)
“What I plan to do statewide, I will obviously be talking to the Justice of Public Safety folks. I know we haven’t funded our law enforcement like we probably should have statewide. Although here in (Brunswick) County, they’ve done a great job in the schools, the Sheriff’s Department has, particularly, with the resource officers, and I wanna see if we can use that model for the state and see how many counties can have a sheriff’s car and a sheriff’s deputy in every school. I think that would be a good start, because I think it helps here. You don’t know how many things you’ve prevented, either fights or with knives or guns or fists or whatever. You don’t know what you’ve prevented with that presence of law enforcement right there at the school. People coming in seeing that big black car in front of the school, the deputy’s car. I think it’s a great program, and it started here quite a few years ago. After Sandy Hook it went not only in the high schools and middle schools. They started in the elementaries. Immediately. Like the next Monday they had them at all the elementaries as well. So all the schools have had them ever since; have a car and an officer in every school.”
“I think we need to do a better job of not just funding but also best practices for mental health and detox. To help head off some of the root causes of some of these folks that do crazy things.”
Rep. Brenden Jones (R-Columbus County)
Rep. Bob Muller (R-Pender County)
“There is no solution right now. We have to wait for the fact, and that’s all I have to say about that.”