As UNC students were being removed from the North Carolina House gallery last week for protesting against gun violence, Speaker Tim Moore laughed, joked that the protesters must secretly be Duke students and quipped; “This is not a pep rally.”
They know that, Mr. Speaker.
The next day, the campus was on lockdown again. Another man with a gun was on campus. Students hid under desks, and faculty and staff sequestered in dark offices to the sound of sirens and helicopters.
Speaker Moore’s response? He questioned why the campus is a gun-free zone.
“You’re not just going to snap your fingers and get rid of guns,” he said. “That’s not reality; criminals are going to have guns. And the best deterrent against a criminal with a gun is a good guy with a gun.”
More guns and more jokes are not what we need, Mr. Speaker.
As we went on lockdown for the second time this month, we wondered: Would another member of the Carolina family be dead? Should we expect copycats or clusters? Are we doing better in our preparation than we were two weeks ago? Is this how we live on this campus?
Some of us have been with Chancellor Kevin Guskiewicz during these terrible and terrifying moments. He feels the impact deeply. He knows how these incidents compromise the work of this institution and the well-being of those who work, live and study here.
He takes calls from worried parents, provides counseling resources for the campus and sits with grieving families.
Speaker Moore, you are supposed to represent every North Carolinian, not just those who agree with you on policy issues. Students were asking for action that ensures their safety on campus. That is no joking matter.
The Chancellor met the test of leadership. Speaker Moore failed it.