GREENSBORO, N.C. (News Release) — Governor Roy Cooper signed a new gun safety Executive Directive and updated the public on recent action taken to strengthen firearm purchase background checks. Cooper shared the information at the Department of Public Safety’s School Safety Summit in Greensboro.
In March of 2018, Cooper directed the State Bureau of Investigation (SBI) to undertake a comprehensive inventory of the quality of information North Carolina shares with the federal background check system known as National Instant Criminal Background Check System (NICS). Today, Cooper announced that as a result of that work, 284,289 individual instances of criminal convictions that had previously been unreported in the NICS database have now been added.
“I am pleased to report that in North Carolina over the last 14 months, more than 284,000 convictions have been added to the federal background check system,” said Governor Cooper. “This improves the quality of every background check and helps keep guns out of the wrong hands.”
Governor Cooper also shared information about the gun safety Executive Directive he signed today. The directive requires state agencies to take increased action on closing crime reporting gaps between state and federal agencies, and expands firearm safety education.
“Recognizing that the odds are long for our current legislature to make real changes, today I signed an Executive Directive to my cabinet agencies to build on the work we’ve done to this point,” added Governor Cooper. “Wishing, praying, and sending condolences alone just aren’t enough to prevent these tragedies. We have to take action.”
The Governor’s Executive Directive includes the following:
Strengthening Background Check System and Protections from Domestic Terrorism (SBI Directives)
The SBI is directed to continue the work begun by the National Instant Criminal Background Check System (NICS) Working Group to close information gaps where the state should be sharing information with NICS. Convened by Governor Cooper in 2018, the working group identified 284,289 individual instances of criminal convictions that went unreported in the NICS database. Identifying and rectifying these gaps strengthens the safety net provided by firearm background checks.
The SBI will also provide Behavioral Threat Assessment training to local law enforcement agencies to help local law enforcement connect these individuals identified as a potential risk to harming others with supportive community services.
The SBI will increase the North Carolina Information Sharing and Analysis Center’s outreach to businesses and community groups in order to build community awareness of domestic terrorism indicators.
Improving Public Health and Incident Response (DHHS Directives)
The directive orders the Department of Health and Human Services (DHHS) to promote safe storage of personal firearms.
DHHS and the Division of Emergency Management will develop guidance for local governments to help share information and reunite loved ones in the wake of a mass shooting or other major incident.
DHHS will also convene a coalition of suicide prevention stakeholders to update the state’s Suicide Prevention Plan.
Gov. Cooper Calls for Legislative Actions on Two Bills
Last week, Cooper called on the General Assembly to take action on two key public safety bills HB 86 and HB 454.
HB 86, the “Gun Violence Prevention Act,” includes several provisions to improve background checks and encourage safe and responsible gun ownership. HB 454, “Allow ERPOs to Save Lives & Prevent Suicides,” would create Extreme Risk Protection Orders, sometimes called a red flag law, and authorize family members and law enforcement to petition a court to restrict an individual’s access to firearms if there is evidence that person poses a danger to themselves or others. Fifteen states have already enacted this type of law.
Both HB 86 and HB 454 have been referred to the House Judiciary Committee. Neither bill has had a hearing.
FACTS ABOUT FIREARM FATALITIES
There has been more than one mass shooting a day in 2019, including one at the University of North Carolina-Charlotte in April, 2019, that left two dead and four wounded.
On average, 1,113 North Carolinians per year are killed by firearms, and a person is killed by a gun every seven hours in the state.
Firearms are the third-leading cause of death for North Carolina children, and in just two years, at least 672 children and teenagers in North Carolina visited a hospital for a firearm-related injury.
The annual cost of gun violence in North Carolina is $7.4 billion and $754 per resident.
Suicide is the leading cause of firearm-related deaths in North Carolina, and nearly 57 percent of all suicide deaths in the state involve firearms.
61 percent of NC’s intimate- partner homicides involve a gun, and abused women are five times more likely to be killed if their abuser has a firearm.
For a fact sheet on the Executive Directive, click HERE.