Testimony Before NC House Rules Committee on Gun Legislation

 

Background

The North Carolina House is progressing a piece of legislation that would, in part, expand public exposure to concealed carry and weaken the permit process.  The legislation is House Bill 562, An Act to Amend Various Firearm Laws.  The legislation is opposed by both the NC Sheriff’s Association and the Governor.  The bill has attracted national attention.  Everytown for Gun Safety and North Carolina Moms Demand Action financed a television ad opposing the bill that was aired statewide.  Also involved is States United to Prevent Gun Violence and its local affiliate North Carolinians Against Gun Violence that was instrumental in lobbying efforts and driving attendance at the hearing.  With only about 12 hours notice, the House Rules Committee met Wednesday, June 3, 2015 at 9:00 AM to debate and vote on the bill.  Testimony from the public was permitted.  This included representatives of gun control advocacy groups as well as ‘gun rights’ advocacy organizations including Grass Roots North Carolina and the National Rifle Association.  Reporters from most, in not all, local television stations were present.

The testimony I gave at the hearing, including its electronic transmission to the Rules Committee Chair (Lewis) with copy to North Carolina House Speaker (Moore) and Minority Leader (Hall) is reproduced below (with the correction of a typographical error in the correspondence).  An Op-Ed based on this testimony and my work in Geneva last summer was submitted to the Raleigh N&O for consideration.

The bill passed the committee by a single vote, that of the committee chair as the committee was deadlocked 13-13.  The legislation is headed for full House debate and vote Monday, June 8, at 7PM.

Correspondence and Testimony

Representative Lewis:

Per directions at yesterday’s committee hearing on HB 562 (Amend Firearms Laws), I am submitting hard copy of the testimony I gave at the hearing.  I copy Speaker Moore and House Minority Leader Hall.  As stated in that testimony, I would hold the passage of this legislation to be a dereliction of duty on the part of our legislature.

I made my living in a regulated industry at executive, senior executive, and corporate officer level positions where we were required to conduct benefit/risk analysis of pharmaceutical products to assure their safe and effective use.  Disturbing to me is that some of the representations being made about concealed carry are of the very nature that have resulted in criminal convictions in my industry for falsely representing risk and product benefits.  There is an appalling double standard at play between firearms and other products regarding public safety.  I do intend to continue pursuing this matter.

 

Testimony

House Rules Committee

HB 562 (Amend Firearms Laws)

June 3, 2015

My name is Dr. Art Kamm and I reside in Apex, NC.

One thing that we know for certain, that is indisputable, is that the concealed carry population itself increases the risk of serious bodily injury and death to the general public.  Although the risk has been clearly documented, we do not understand the extent of the risk because we have been obstructed from studying it.  As such, it becomes impossible to determine an off setting benefit.

My work on the intersection of human rights, race and gun violence took me to both the US Department of State and the United Nations in Geneva, Switzerland last summer as a report author on African-American Gun Violence Victimization.  I participated in a review of our country’s obligations under a treaty ratified by the US Senate.   Not one, but two committees consisting of legal and academic scholars ruled that the loss of life by gunfire in our country, including its disproportionate effects in women, children, racial/ethnic minorities, as well as the proliferation of Stand-Your-Ground laws (intimately linked to concealed carry) represents a failure of our government in one of its most fundamental duties – to protect the life of its citizens.

Life is a fundamental right; it is a foundational right in our country; it is embedded in our Declaration of Independence as being an unalienable right (unable to be denied or taken away) – we fought a war of independence to secure that right.  To use an element of our Bill of Rights to justify the willful and intentional loss of life in thousands of our citizens each year through a product intended to end life, makes a mockery of our constitution.

As a private citizen, I am asking that you effectively exercise your duty to protect life by tabling this piece of legislation.  With concealed carry not being a constitutionally protected right, and until we can ascertain the extent of the risk, the decision to lower permit requirements and to publicly expand CCW resides solely with your decision.