I was born and raised on a farm in rural North Carolina before attending college at N.C. State. I served in the U.S. Army Reserves for 14 years and was deployed to Iraq in 2003. After my deployment, I began working in government and politics, focusing on issues I care deeply about and ensuring that the representatives we send to Washington share the values of our state.
Like many, news of the mass shooting in Orlando, Florida earlier this year shook me to my core. In just a short amount of time, a man using guns similar to those I carried on the streets of Baghdad slaughtered 49 people and left 53 others injured. In the days following the shooting my sadness turned to anger, then determination. I was no longer content to sit on the sidelines, frustrated by our nation’s seeming inability to do anything to prevent what have become regular occurrences.
Committed to making a difference, in June I founded the Pride Fund To End Gun Violence, an organization dedicated to helping elect candidates who will act on sensible gun policy reforms while championing LGBTQ safety and equality.
Sen. Richard Burr has shown himself to be an extremist, eager to put the gun lobby’s interests ahead of the people he was elected to represent. In June, just days after the Orlando shooting, Burr voted against legislation that would have prevented people on terror watch lists from buying guns or explosives. Burr also voted against commonsense legislation that would have closed current loopholes, ensuring that background checks are done before all gun purchases, including those on the Internet. It’s worth noting that in a recent poll, eighty-nine percent of North Carolinians supported requiring criminal background checks on all gun buyers, including those buying at gun shows and through private sales.
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In addition to opposing even the most basic of reforms, Burr has demonstrated a highly disturbing attitude when it comes to this issue. Last weekend, Burr joked to a small group of supporters that while recently touring a gun shop he spotted a picture of Hillary Clinton on a magazine and said he was “a little bit shocked that it didn’t have a bulls-eye on it.”
While Burr has since apologized and admitted that his comments were inappropriate, I believe the incident offers a small window into his thinking. Instead of viewing gun violence as a serious issue that requires serious attention, Burr views it as a joke and something he has no intention of working to fix.
Make no mistake, Deborah Ross believes in the Second Amendment, but she’s also pragmatic, and supports policies aimed at keeping guns away from dangerous people like violent criminals, domestic abusers, and terrorists.
On LGBTQ issues, Burr is just as extreme. While in Congress, Burr voted in favor of a constitutional ban on same-sex marriage and against the Employment Non-Discrimination Act, which would make it illegal for corporations to hire, fire, promote, or compensate people differently based on sexual orientation or sexual identity. Burr has also inexplicably declared that HB2 “does not discriminate.”
Despite the circus-like atmosphere this election cycle has turned into, as voters, we have important decisions to make about who we want to send to Washington as our representatives. In Deborah Ross, we have the opportunity to elect someone who is committed to start reducing the more than 33,000 gun deaths that take place in our country each year, or we can elect someone who jokes about gun violence. On Election Day, I hope you’ll join the Pride Fund To End Gun Violence in turning anger into action by electing a candidate who will work to make our state and nation safer for everyone.
Jason Lindsay is executive director of the Pride Fund to End Gun Violence.