Under the Dome

NC part of gun control push tied to Sandy Hook massacre

A Durham woman was part of a national news conference on Thursday by Moms Demand Action for Gun Sense in America, a pro-gun control group that sprang up the day after the Sandy Hook Elementary School shooting in Connecticut nearly on Dec. 14, 2012.

Kaaren Haldeman of Durham is one of the state chapter leaders of what has become a nationwide movement claiming more than 120,000 members. She seemed a little out of place joining representatives from Connecticut, Illinois and Maryland who reported significant success enacting gun reforms in their states this year.

Haldeman acknowledged it was “an uphill battle” with “a grim outlook” in North Carolina, where the governor and legislature loosened restrictions on places people with concealed-carry permits can bring their guns, including into bars, restaurants and parks.

Yet, Haldeman said, more than 6,000 volunteers have signed up to let restaurants know they can prohibit weapons by posting signs. The state chapter is also producing a gun-free dining guide, she said. Haldeman said the chapter plans to keep close tabs on the General Assembly during its short session in May.

“We’re planning on being there,” she said. “We communicating. This issue is not going away for us.”

The call-in news conference kicked off a campaign around the one-year anniversary of the Connecticut mass shooting, which includes bell-ringing observations around the country on Dec. 14, including in Durham, Charlotte and Asheville. But the thrust of the campaign is that observing moments of silence is not enough.

Moms Demand Action is putting most of its energy behind national efforts to expand background checks for firearm purchases. Founder Shannon Watts of Indiana said U.S. Sen. Majority Leader Harry Reid has promised there will be another vote on the legislation, which failed in April.

Not coincidentally, the pro-gun Second Amendment Foundation on Thursday announced a nationwide TV ad campaign worth “hundreds of thousands of dollars of air time” promoting “Guns Save Lives Day” on Dec. 15, rescheduled from the Sandy Hook anniversary so as not to politicize the event, they say.

The group criticized Moms Demand Action for exploiting the tragedy.