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53 NC Counties Proclaim They're 'Second Amendment Sanctuaries'

Firearms-related deaths in North Carolina topped 1,400 North Carolinians in 2017, according to data from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. (Adobe Stock)
Firearms-related deaths in North Carolina topped 1,400 North Carolinians in 2017, according to data from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. (Adobe Stock)
February 17, 2020

RALEIGH, N.C. - More than half of North Carolina's 100 counties have passed resolutions declaring they are "Second Amendment sanctuaries" - meaning they see themselves as exempt from enforcing state gun safety laws.

Winston-Salem resident and retired teacher Susan Browder comes from a family of gun owners, and says she was never worried about the presence of guns in homes until her daughter Sarah was killed in 2012.

Browder believes Second Amendment sanctuary resolutions could put domestic violence victims at increased risk for gun violence.

"Sarah had married an abusive man, and she was in the process of telling him that she was leaving," says Browder. "And as she was fleeing, he raised his gun and he put a bullet through her spine and another through her shoulder. He then shot himself and died immediately of suicide."

Sarah was only 29 when she died. According to the American Journal of Public Health, the presence of a firearm makes it nearly five times more likely that a person will be killed by their partner in domestic violence cases.

Becky Ceartas, executive director of North Carolinians Against Gun Violence - a group tracking the number of Second Amendment sanctuary resolutions passed in the state - says it appears that counties are taking this step in response to gun legislation being introduced in neighboring states.

"There was only a handful of these counties before January," says Ceartas. "We've seen the majority of these counties pass their resolutions mainly looking towards Virginia and what their General Assembly was about to do in regard to gun safety laws."

Virginia lawmakers are considering bills to add background checks for private and gun-show sales, and to allow judges to temporarily confiscate guns if a person is found to be an extreme risk.

Browder says those who are resisting stronger gun-safety laws are out of step with widespread public opinion.

"That is all that I want, is for my children, my family and other people to not have to experience an unnecessary tragedy, a preventable tragedy, like what happened to my daughter," says Browder.

In a 2019 poll, nearly 60% of North Carolinians said they think the state's gun laws are too lax, even though 48% said they, or someone in their home, own guns.

Nadia Ramlagan, Public News Service - NC