NC Gov. Cooper proposes gun law changes after school shootings

NC Gov. Cooper proposes gun law changes after school shootings

Governor Roy Cooper (AP photo/Alan Campbell)

RALEIGH, NC — North Carolina Governor Roy Cooper says anyone who wants to buy an assault-style rifle in the state should have to get a permit in the same way they do if they want to buy a handgun.

"After the tragedy in Parkland, Florida, conversations about school safety and gun reforms have taken place all over America. Brave students are making their voices heard, and it's clear they want action. I do too," said Governor Cooper Wednesday.

Cooper also wants to raise the age to buy an assault weapon to 21.

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Under current North Carolina law, anyone who wants to buy a handgun has to get a pistol permit from their local sheriff.

"This system allows time for appropriate checks to take place before someone can legally buy a handgun. But our law has a glaring loophole since this background check and permit process isn't required to buy an assault weapon like an AR-15, the weapon used in Parkland. It should be," said Cooper.

The governor has also asked for a review of the current background check system in North Carolina.

"To ensure that we are doing our part to make background checks more effective, I've directed the State Bureau of Investigation to undertake a comprehensive inventory of the quality of information our state shares with the federal background check system. If critical information our state should be reporting is missing, we need to know and we need to change that," he said.

Cooper said it appears the federal government is moving to ban so-called "bump stocks" that allow a gun to function more like a fully automatic weapon, but if it does not, he says North Carolina should ban them at the state level.

The governor also said recent school shootings make it clear there needs to be better diagnosis and treatment of mental illness. He said the General Assembly should move to accept federal funds available to expand Medicaid so more families can afford mental health care.

"We can also increase the number of school personnel who receive youth and adult mental health first aid training, which covers common mental health challenges that young people face and provides guidance for how to help them in both crisis and non-crisis situations," said Cooper.

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