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News & Press: Updates for Members

NASW-NC Statement on Recent Gun Violence

Tuesday, August 6, 2019   (0 Comments)
Posted by: Seth Maid
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Dear NASW North Carolina Members:

 

The two acts of domestic terrorism in El Paso and Dayton over the weekend have left us all in grief. I am also angry that gun violence fueled by racism, bigotry and hatred have energized the stigmatization of persons with mental illness.

 

We see those of you who are turning to activism in your mourning. We also see those of you choosing to pause, reflect, and practice good care for yourselves and each other. These reactions are not in conflict with each other. Both are necessary in the work for justice. For those who are feeling stuck, we offer the following list of ways to take action and help victims in that spirit of grief, love and justice.

 

National Action

Call to urge Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell to bring H.R.8 - Bipartisan Background Checks Act of 2019, which passed the House in February, to the Senate floor for a vote so all Senators can go on the record and show whether they are willing to take commonsense action now against gun violence.

 

Contact your United States Senators Richard Burr and Thom Tillis and ask them to put the pressure on Senator McConnell to bring the bill to the floor and immediately pass H.R.8. You can also ask your Congresspersons to immediately pass an assault weapons ban and H.R.1236 - Extreme Risk Protection Order Act of 2019. Contact information for your Senators and Congresspersons can be found here: https://www.ncleg.gov/RnR/Representation

 

On a national level, such groups as the Southern Poverty Law Center, the ACLU and the Anti-Defamation League fight discrimination and hate. You could join, get involved with or make a contribution to one of these state or national groups.

 

State Action

Hold your state representative and senator accountable to protecting North Carolinians from gun violence. The North Carolina Legislative leadership has shown no effort when it comes to gun safety in North Carolina. Call your state legislators and demand action. The following bills were introduced this session with no movement:

 

North Carolina House Bill 86, the Gun Violence Protection Act, was filed in February and includes provisions that would require a permit for all guns purchased in the state, not just pistols, and set a three-day waiting period for purchases. It also would set a minimum age of 21 to buy an assault rifle, ban high-capacity magazines and require owners of guns that are lost or stolen to report the loss or theft to police.

 

North Carolina House Bill 454 was filed in March and would create a so-called "red flag law" in North Carolina, which would allow a judge to temporarily take away someone's guns if they're found to be an imminent danger to themselves or others. The person would also be banned from buying or borrowing other guns as long as the order is in effect.

 

With little expectation that Republican leadership would move these bills out of committee, House Democrats lined up Monday night to sign a discharge petition to get them moving anyway. That effort was largely symbolic, since it takes a majority of members to force legislation to the floor, and no House Republicans joined the minority party (WRAL). Still, you should use your social work voice and call, write letters, and visit your representative.

 

Local Action (Shout out to NASW Ohio for this great list)

  • Love yourself, your friends, your families and your community. Check-in. Listen. Offer care and hold each other accountable.
  • Demand comprehensive social and emotional support services in schools (including full-time school social workers) to assess and address high risk behavior early and often. The ideal ratio for school social workers to students is 1:250, but no North Carolina school has come close to meeting this standard.
  • Stomp stigma at every opportunity. Folks living with severe and persistent mental illness are much more likely to be the victim of a violent crime than a perpetrator. White supremacy and gender-based violence are different from mental illness. While access to mental health treatment is crucial and should remain a priority, we must not scapegoat folks with mental illness for failures of society.

Finally, get involved in the 2020 U.S. Census and 2020 national and statewide elections. Voting laws have changed in North Carolina and we need to help register voters AND obtain an ID to vote in underserved communities. We need to elect a President and Congresspersons who will use their voice and moral authority to fight hate and promote acceptance of people from all religions, racial and ethnic backgrounds, nationalities, sexual orientations and gender identities.

Let’s use these multiple tragedies to redouble our efforts to fight hate and gun violence in our country.

 

Valerie Arendt, MSW, MPP
Executive Director
varendt.naswnc@socialworkers.org


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