Category Archives: Editorial/ Column

A Shot in the Dark (or Light)

“Bad things happen to good people. It’s a part of life I’ll never understand but it’s a reality. Some people blame violence on weapons, but I tend to blame violence on human nature.”

Robin Fraizer, 47, is a mom of three adolescent boys, wife of a successful real estate agent, and owner of three licensed firearms and two concealed hand guns. Durham County, North Carolina resident and Gwinnett County, Georgia, native, Fraizer represents one of many attitudes surrounding the topic of gun control in North Carolina.

“Criminals will always a find a way…It’s funny to me when people think that gun control will end violence. Criminals steal their weapons, so gun control in effect penalizes law-abiding citizens.”

An advocate for statewide licensed distribution of guns, Fraizer was raised in a middle-class southern home with parents who preached the topic of guns as both a protective mechanism for existence, yet also as a sporting event.

“I own guns and I own them for several reasons. First of all, shooting is a lot of fun! It’s a tradition in my family and if you know basic gun safety, it’s a great time. I also own guns because I know that there are evil men in this world.”

The issue of gun control expands into every level of American government and does not stop at the borders of the U.S.. With eight million new guns manufactured worldwide each year (over half of those guns purchased in the United States), gun control (or lack thereof) plays a relative and dominant role in the lives of every global citizen.

According to a Small Arms Survey in 2007 that was conducted by the Geneva-based Graduate Institution of International Studies, “There is roughly one firearm for every seven people worldwide. Without the United States though, this number drops to about one firearm per 10 people (Maclnnis).”

A public poll conducted by the Brady Campaign (BC), a pro-gun control non-profit that rivals the National Rifle Association (NRA), found that 70 percent of American voters mistakenly believe that a system of licensing and registering already exists in the U.S.. Yet, the Small Arms Survey found that only around 12 percent of civilian weapons are registered with authorities.

Scored by the BC in 2011 as rating a16 out of 100, 100 being strong gun control, North Carolina proved to be anything but deliberate with gun control laws. The one-star rating by the BC stated North Carolina as a state with, “weak gun laws that help feed the illegal gun market and allows the sale of guns without background checks and put children at risk (Brady).” Yet Senator Kay Hagan stood by these lax gun laws stating, “I am a strong supporter of Second Amendment rights. My children received lifelong hunting licenses when they were born, and hunting has been a favorite pastime of our family. Responsible gun ownership is not only part of the fabric of my state, but it is also a fundamental Constitutional right (Hagan).”

In the same public poll by the BC mentioned above, 87 percent of non-NRA gun owners and 74 percent of NRA gun owners support require criminal background checks on anyone who wishes to purchase a gun. Republican pollster Frank Lutz stated,  “Gun owners have misperceptions of current gun laws, with over half (53%) of non-NRA members and 57% of NRA members believing that the statement, ‘Everyone who wants to buy a gun has to pass a background check to complete the purchase’ is true.  This statement is false (Lutz).” Lutz went on to say that approximately 40 percent of gun sales are not subject to a Brady background check (Lutz).

In 2008, Governor of North Carolina, Beverly Purdue voted to “maintain all state registration procedures and state restrictions on possessing firearms (Perdue),” and “Continue to allow law-abiding citizens to carry concealed firearms (Perdue).” Yet as depicted above, what are the legal state registration procedures and state restrictions surrounding gun control in NC and how might these be misconstrued or ill-perceived by the majority of the population?

The cold hard facts of this case seem to be missing, but how?  Why is this big-screen production, one that is filled with star-studded actors such as the NRA and BC, offer no national consensus on gun control, nor a polarized, partisan opinion?

Examining current legislation and elected North Carolina political actors voting records could perhaps offer an authentic and certifiable definition of what gun control in North Carolina truly means. Yet a less political and more reliable source exists on this topic. North Carolina Attorney General, Roy Cooper last revised the NC Firearms Laws in December 2011. Below are multiple excerpts from his North Carolina Department of Justice Law Enforcement Liaison Section. These sections will be most helpful in defining the current state restrictions and flexibilities surrounding gun ownership in NC:

  • “Requirements for the purchase of firearms (page 1)”
      • On February 28, 1994, the Brady Handgun Violence Prevention Act became law…established numerous procedures to govern purchases of firearms…
      • …establishment of National Instant Criminal Background Check System (NICS) that federally licensed firearms dealers must contact before transferring any firearm (handgun or long gun) to individuals. The NICS system is operated by the FBI…North Carolina’s handgun purchase permits will suffice as a suitable alternative method for the purchase of a firearm in NC from a federally licensed firearms dealer under Brady.

March 30, 1981 marked the beginning of a 10 year battle when twenty-five-year-old John W. Hinckley, Jr., loomed in the shadows of
a Washington, D.C., hotel, waiting for President Ronald Reagan to emerge. As President Reagan approached his limousine, Hinckley fired off six rounds with a .22 caliber Rohm RG-14 revolver (Patterson). The president was hit in his lung, but the battle came from the three others accompanying him who  were wounded. Reagan press secretary, James S. Brady, sustained a wound to his forehead that disabled him permanently, igniting a passion in his wife Sarah Brady that spread to a wave of gun control sentiment throughout the country (Sugarmann). Though the NRA was successful in torpedoeing the bill for over 10 years, 1993 brought the first federal law passed in hope to regulate gun distribution throughout the US.

    • Federal Requirements (page 2)”
        • The NICS databases will include: illegal/unlawful alien files, controlled substance abuse files, dishonorable discharge files, citizenship renouncing files, mental commitment files, wanted persons files, domestic violence protection order files, criminal history files…
        • This information will then be used in determining if a person can purchase a firearm… Firearm dealer must have purchasers complete and sign BATF From 4473, Firearms Transactions Record…examining a government issued photo identification card…”
        • Multiple long guns may be purchased with a single pistol purchase permit however they must be purchased in a single transaction.
        • …a valid North Carolina Concealed Handgun Permit may be used as an alternative to a NICS check…preceding five years.

In other words, if a dent exist on a person’s record, it will become extremely hard for them to obtain a gun. This in theory may sound appropriate and legitimate but perhaps examining the demographic of gun users in North Carolina will show a flaw in the system. The owners of four or more guns (about 10% of the nation’s adults) are in possession of over 77% of the total stock of firearms in the entire nation. Yet only 17.5% of these guns are sporting (hunting) firearms (Spitzer). Below are the age demographics of gun owners in NC.

Less than high school (N=358) 74.1

High school (N=858) 65.7

Some college (N=73 1) 71.2

College degree (bachelor’s) (N=291) 78.5

Some post-college (N=70) 84.3

Advanced degree (N=224) 67.4

  • “North Carolina Requirements (page 3)”
    • NC pistol permitting an concealed carry permit laws qualify as an alternative to the requirements of the Brady Law… it is unlawful for any person, firm, or corporation to sell, give, away, transfer, purchase, or receive, at any place in the state, any pistol, unless the purchaser or receiever has obtained a license or permit to receive such a pistol by the sheriff of the county where the purchaser or receiver resides, or the purchaser or receiver possesses a valid NC issued concealed carry permit.
    • A violation of this pistol permit law is a Class 2 Misdemeanor under NC law. Specifically exempt from the provisions of this permit requirement are the transfer of antique firearms or historic-edged weapons (before 1898)…the fee for pistol permits is set by the statue and is $5.00 per permit.

    Spitzer also concluded that one in three hand guns and one in six long guns (sporting/hunting guns) is kept loaded and unlocked, while nearly 1/5 of gun owners have no formal gun training (Sugarmann) and support no registration requirements thorughout states.

    • “Eligible Persons—Federal and NC (page 4-5)”  Ineligible to receive or possess a fireman under federal law: persons under indictment, convicted in any court of a crime punishable by imprisonment for a term exceeding one year, a fugitive from justice, a person who is an unlawful user of, or addicted to, marijuana, or any depressant, stimulant, or narcotic drug, or any other controlled substance, a person who has been adjudicated mentally defective, discharged dishonorably from the U.S. armed forces, a person illegally in the US, or a person having been a citizen of the US, but has renounced his or her citizenship.
  • Effective September 30, 1996…”Lautenburg Amendment” to prohibit the possession of firearms and ammunition by anyone convicted of a misdemeanor under federal or state law which has an element, the use or attempted use of physical force, or threatened use of a deadly weapon…”
  • A county sheriff is only authorized under NCGS to issue a permit to receive or purchase a handgun when an application is submitted by a person who is a resident of his or her particular county (page 6).
  • (Page 10) A citizen of this State may purchase a firearm in another state if the citizen undergoes a background check that satisfies the law of the state of purchase and that includes an inquiry of the NICS.
  • “Possessing and Carrying Firearms; carrying concealed weapons (page 10)”
    • …it is unlawful for any person in NC, except when on his or her own premises, to willing and intentionally carry concealed, either on or about his or her person, any “Bowie Knife, dirk, dagger, slingshot, loaded cane, metallic knuckles, razor, shurikin, stungun, or any other deadly weapon of like kind.”…ordinary pocket knives are specifically exempt.
    • Whether, in a given case, a weapon is concealed from the public is a question of fact. By using the phrase, “concealed about his or her person,” this law makes it illegal to have a weapon concealed not only on a person, but also within a person’s convenient control and easy reach.
  • “Concealed Handgun Permit (page 12-13)”
    • In order to acquire a NC permit, an individual must apply to the sheriffs office in the county in which he/she resides. As part of the application process, the applicant must accomplish the following:
      • Complete an application, under oath, on a form provided by the sheriffs office; pay a non-refundable fee of $80.00; allow the sheriffs office to take two full sets of fingerprints, which may cost up to $10.00; provide an original certificate of completion of an approved handgun safety course; provide a release authorizing disclosure to the sheriff of any record concerning the applicants mental health or capacity.
        • For approval: must be a citizen, have been a resident of NC for not less than 30 days immediating preceding the filing of the application, be at least 21 years of age, not suffer from physical and mental infirmity that prevents the safe handling of a hand gun, and have a successfully completed an approved firearms training coarse.
        • …he/she must renew the permit every 5 years.. at least 45 days prior to the expiration date.
        • (page 16) In emergencies, a sheriff may issue a temporary permit to an individual when the sheriff has reasonable belief that the individuals safety, or the safety of his or her property, or family, is in immediate danger…emergency situations exists.
        • (Page 17) Not only must the individual carry the permit along with proper identification whenever the handgun is being carried concealed, but he/she must also inform may law enforcement officer who approaches him/her that he/she is in possession of a permit and a concealed handgun. Failure to do so is an infraction. However, in lieu of paying the fine for the first offense, the individual may choose to surrender his or her permit. Any individual who violates any other standards for the carrying of a concealed handgun with a permit is guilty of a Class 2 Misdemeanor. Any person who has not been issued a valid permit but carries a concealed handgun unlawfully, is guilty of committing a Class 2 Misdemeanor for the first offense, and any subsequent offense are Class I Felonies.
        • Areas of prohibition: school grounds, areas where alcohol is sold and consumed, state property, legislative buildings, and public gatherings, such as parades.
        • (Page 18) Any person who ahs a concealed handgun permit may carry a concealed handgun on the grounds or waters of a park within the State Parks System as defined in G.S… it is lawful to carry any firearm openly, or to carry a concealed handgun with a concealed carry permit, at any State-owned rest area.
        • No political subdivisions may enact ordinances, rules, or regulations concerning legally carrying a concealed handgun.
        • It is unlawful for the permittee to carry a concealed handgun while consuming alcohol…however, a permittee does not violate this law if a controlled substance in his or her blood was lawfully obtained and taken in therapeutically appropriate amounts.

North Carolina laws can be summed up in two words: contradictory and confusing. Every section seems to have a lining or an exception– no wonder North Carolinians hesitate to support or deny gun control when the options present no valid claims. After researching this topic, it is hard to draw a clear conclusion on what gun control in North Carolina will look like in the future, but what is clear is that the topic is very much so an individual one. As gun laws clearly exhibit, there is no one way to approach gun control or lack thereof. Interpretations extend all the way up from the local level to international.

“I have a very strict gun control policy: if there’s a gun around, I want to be in control of it.”
– Clint Eastwood, RNC speaker (NRA member).

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Demanded Rehabilitation

By Katie Spiro, Gardner-Webb Media Student

In this current state of the union, the issue of foreign oil dependency is America’s number one threat to its internal and external homeostasis. America has been rocked with an increase in gas prices these last few years and financial tension is a common clause to many Americans. From the outside, gasoline appears to only directly affect our means of transportation—yet underneath its three dollar mask of necessity lays an addictive American attitude that craves a rehabilitation called change.

As an economic issue, our dependency on oil is extraordinary. Oil has been fueling our economy for decades (pun intended). Our market demands it. Transportation is vital to all Americans. Whether a soccer mom, a business executive, or a train commuter– we all depend on oil in one form or another.  So where does the starting line even begin  in a race to change this daily constraint?

We must change our market.

Back in 2008, gas prices hit a record high in North Carolina of $5.03 per gallon. The first few days after the price jump, people were calling in sick, school buses were no longer publicly fundable options, and cars lined gas stations till trash bags covered the pumps. Yet as the days continued, the reality set in. People began to react, and adjust once they realized the world kept spinning. Students rode motor bikes, families carpooled, and employees ate lunch in. Once it became clear that life continued—people changed.

This “click” moment is what our country will need in order to change. Whether brought on by accident (BP oil leak), conflict (Egypt, Iraq), or some other drastic event, this “ah-ha” moment is the key to an American public that will demand change as a necessity, not an option.

What is the solution? Can America develop a rational and comprehensive plan to gradually reduce its dependence upon foreign oil, and oil in general? Or perhaps America can supplement oil by promoting the use of alternate home-grown clean energy sources, such as wind, solar, clean biofuels, hydroelectric. But what if both approaches slug a foul ball? Perhaps a drastic event must be the bastard child of change. Unfortunately, with the devil in the details, it is hard to pinpoint an excat solution, but if America stands for anything, it is that anything is possible.

The economic, political, and environmental impact of massive fossil fuel consumption is now beyond reasoned argument. Change must occur– it’s the smart thing to do. And it is the right thing to do.

A rehabilitation called change is needed. Crave it.

The Ugly Face of Facebook

By Katie Spiro, Gardner-Webb Media Student

It is a frosty, mid-Saturday December morning. I reluctantly drag out of bed, power-on the coffee pot, and slug to my favorite lounge couch. I reach for my link to the world and begin the day by browsing neglected e-mails, launching Pandora radio, and surfing my favorited sites. As I scroll through, my stomach drops. Sultry, mid-lit pictures overflow my news feed and reveal a bonfire I never received an invitation for. It’s Facebook official– my-ex has moved on.

Founded in February 2004, Facebook is a “social utility
that helps people communicate more efficiently with their friends, family and
coworkers,” while developing technologies that facilitate the “sharing of
information through the social graph.” With this technology, who needs daily conversation or lunch break coffee chats when status updates are to the minute and share greater intimacy with acquainted strangers than the cute guy who has worked next to you for the past year?

With over 800 million active users, 70 available languages, and 3,000 employees, the
Facebook craze has reached nearly every corner of the globe. With these figures and capabilitites, I can not only stalk my ex, but also his best friends, co-workers, and even foreign grandparents. On average, a Facebook data center receives 250
million new photos, 20 million app requests, and over 400 million logins–per day. Talk about a stressful day job for founder and CEO, Mark Zuckerberg; talk about a full-time occupation for the modern college student.

As the ultimate social medium between individuals and 800
million of their closest friends, Facebook allows people to view their friend’s
latest activities, status updates, and even current relationships titles. But whatever
happened to those face to face conversations or lunch break coffee chats? With a mask of virtual
socialization, anyone can avoid the social consequences of the actual world, but where are the boundaries of ‘friendship’ drawn? Are we friends because we take the same metro every morning and share in the same hatred for our bosses? Or are we not friends because you havn’t added me on Facebook?

The art of conversation, seduction, and even perception has significantly changed thanks to Facebook and other social media sites. Who needs a spontaneous coffee date or free movie ticket when you can virtually “poke” that Mr. Right  instead? With the lack of a ‘rejection’ button, awkward looks and uncomfortable dialogue are completely avoidable. Why take the chance, right?

Wrong. As with letters, phone calls, and e-mails, these media sites can
be excellent ways to keep in touch with friendships abroad, military
loved-ones, and college parents—but where is the line drawn? How much is too
much and where do these mediums become accurate excuses of a real relationship?

What started in a Harvard dorm room has swept the nation and world into a pile of comments, photos, and chat sessions. It time to take out the trash, not keep sweeping it under the rug.

I stand for akwardness. I stand for chance. I stand for reality and I stand for time spent with a group of people who make a life, not make a profile.

http://www.facebook.com/press/info.php?statistics

Protestors Arrested in Texas, Oregon

“Occupy” movement protestors
around the nation have been arrested for disregarding city policies

In Oregon this past Sunday, dozens of anti-Wall street
protestors were arrested and dragged from banned city parks. The group had been
allowed access to 2 alternate city parks, despite city policies outlawing
camping, but forced further flexibility. Police said the arrests were made on
charges that included criminal trespassing, interfering with a police officer,
and disorderly conduct.

The movement, which began in lower Manhattan six weeks ago,
has been a public outcry to stop corporate influence in American government and
to also impede the widening gap between class inequalities. Capturing a
multitude of cities in America and other parts of the world, the movement is
gaining series attention as both a positive and negative reaction to the Wall Street
crisis.

Though protestors in New York and other east coast cities
were forced to abandon their post due to a snowstorm, Texan squatters also made
headlines. 39 arrests were made when police were forced to uphold a new rule
banning food tables in the City Hall plaza. Assistant City Manager Michael
McDonald reported that the rule had been passed the previous Friday before the arrests
were made early Sunday. “We want to facilitate their activities, but we can’t
allow this to be a permanent campsite.”

Occupancy movements across the US have been relatively undamaging
and nonviolent thus far, but one must question the vitality of these peaceful
efforts before patience wear thin and aggression erupts.

Is a college Degree worth the debt?

As the price of a college degree increases while American incomes continually decrease, Americans are starting to wonder: is a college degree worth it?

The answer is no. With a boastful claim to increased opportunity and ‘aheadness’ in the job market, a college degree seems nonsensical not to get. Yet this necessary commodity, one that promises job advantage and an ultimately a successful future, it certainly does not yield mercy to the premature pockets of todays young financiers. With the starting line in the race to success continually being pushed back as tuitions rise across the nation, a re-evaluation of racer participation must be considered.

In sharing their sentiments and experiences, two college post-graduates offer their frustration in dealing with the aftermath of their educational debt. Erik Solecki, a Kettering University graduate, finished his degree with a bachelor’s in Industrial Engineering, as well as $185,000 in student debt. Solecki imagined his starting salary would range between $70,000-$80,000, enough to off-set his debt within a few years time, but when reality brought nine months of unemployment and a job salary well-below his expectation, regret and bitterness began to settle in.

“Such a specialized, technical degree is supposed to lead to a great career, so I was willing to take out the debt…Now, I engineer high-end autos. Ironically, I’ll probably never be able to afford one” Solecki sighed.

Saniquah Robinson shares a similar mentality since gaining her $82,000 diploma from Temple University. With both a Bachelors and Masters
Degree, Robinson has been forced to settle for a contract work job, only after three years of job searching for a master’s level position. A mother of three, Robinson was recently turned down from purchasing a home because of her income-debt ratio—a story all too many know.

“I once believed that part of the American Dream was to earn a college education and this would ensure a great career and financial freedom. Unfortunately I am losing hope.”

According to the Project on Student Debt program, class of 2010 graduates put the national average of student debt just over $24,000 post-graduation, an astounding increase of six percent since just 2009. Adding to the turmoil, unemployment rates for college graduates rose from 5.8 percent in 2008 to 8.7 percent in 2009—the highest annual on record.

For decades, high school students have been under the impression that going to college was undoubtedly the best route to a successful
career, yet the numbers yield a different story. The financial futures of thousands of American students have been jeopardized and disfigured due to the unavoidability of student loans and haunting debt. This is a backwards budget system and these so called current practices are out of date.

The race to success will not slow; it is time to change lanes.

http://finance.yahoo.com/college-education/article/113010/degree-not-worth-debt-cnnmoney

http://money.cnn.com/2010/10/22/pf/college/student_loan_debt/index.htm

Why Young Christian’s aren’t waiting Anymore

Young Christians are caving to social standards that differ from their biblical backgrounds

In a time when arranged alliances and pre-teen marriages
were common, the issue of pre-marital sex was uncommon. But in a society like
today’s, where sex is played up and a standardized, young Christians are
following more and more into step with what has become ‘socially acceptable.’

That is the connotation an article in the evangelical
magazine Relevant suggests. Entitled, “(Almost) Everyone’s Doing It,” the
article offers information and statistics collected from a multitude of sources
including, the National Campaign to Prevent Teen and Unplanned Pregnancy.  One of the studies conducted by this
organization found that 80 percent of young, unmarried evangelicals (ages
18-29) have had sex, only slightly lower than the 88 percent of young adults in
this same age range.

Movements such as “True Love Waits” have been recently popular
on high school and college campuses, focusing on bringing awareness to the ever
growing trend of fornication. Yet purity rings, virginity pledges, and other
forms of public pronouncements of chastity are more often than not, abandoned.

Relevant columnist, Tyler Charles, interviewed 20-year Maria
Kearn. As an evangelical Christian college student who desired to abstain from
sex till marriage, Kearn never anticipated her decision to have sex with her first
college boyfriend, Matt. “It seemed everyone in my life, older and younger, had
“done it.” In fact, I waited longer than most people I knew and longer than
both of my sisters, even though we were all Christians and came from a good
home,” stated Kearn.

So why are young Christians having sex? A saturation of sex
into today’s popular culture and the publicity of pornographic material are
only theoretical, but it is undeniable that sex doesn’t discriminate. Christian
or non-religious, sex has become a casual occurrence—one that is currently phasing
into younger generations. Temptation is defined as something having an appeal;
is what society defines sex as, appealing? Or has an individual system of
beliefs been completely removed from the equation?

http://religion.blogs.cnn.com/2011/09/27/why-young-christians-arent-waiting-anymore/comment-page-51/#comment-799912

http://www.relevantmagazine.com/digital-issue/53

http://www.merriam-webster.com/dictionary/tempting