In the wrong hands

By: - June 21, 2005 6:04 am

Raleigh News & Observer

The death of Sesaley Hunter, killed by a stray bullet in a gang-related drive-by shooting in Durham, as well as the other tragic and outrageous gun deaths mentioned in your June 8 editorial "All our daughters," raise two questions: How do hoodlums and gang members get guns? How can we stop this flow of guns into the wrong hands?

We can only speculate how the criminals who killed Sesaley got their guns. There are several major sources for guns that are used in crimes in North Carolina and also trafficked to other states, often exchanged for drugs that come back to our communities. These sources include: 1) corrupt gun dealers; 2) gun shows where convicted felons, domestic abusers and juveniles can purchase guns from private sellers without background checks; 3) "straw buyers," those who purchase on behalf of a prohibited person; and 4) stolen guns.

The problem of guns in the wrong hands is not insoluble, however. North Carolina can do better. We can crack down on corrupt gun dealers who knowingly sell to straw buyers and prohibited persons. We can close the gun show loophole. We can require that all stolen guns be reported. We can severely punish those who deface serial numbers, making it impossible for law enforcement to trace stolen guns and guns used in crimes.

We support SB 892, Trafficking of Illegal Guns Commission, sponsored by Senate Majority Leader Tony Rand, to study the gun trafficking problem and possible solutions — how guns are getting into the wrong hands and what to do about it.

North Carolina does not have to be this way. We can and must find ways to protect people like Sesaley Hunter.

Jessica Forrest

Assistant Director, North Carolinians Against Gun Violence Education Fund

Chapel Hill

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Chris Fitzsimon

Chris Fitzsimon, Founder and Executive Director of N.C. Policy Watch, writes the Fitzsimon File, delivers a radio commentary broadcast on WRAL-FM and hosts "News and Views," a weekly radio news magazine that airs on multiple stations across North Carolina. [email protected] 919-861-2066