About 40 Elon University students, faculty, and staff and community members, a smaller crowd than usual, attended the Panel Discussion: Violence associated with Guns Wednesday evening in Lakeside Meeting Rooms.

Although the room looked empty, there was a flow of questions being asked to the Elon University faculty and staff panelists. The panel was led by Jason Husser, Assistant Director of Elon Poll and Associate Professor of Political Science and Policy Studies and the four panelists were:

  • Kenneth Fernandez- Assistant Political Science and Policy Studies, Director of the Elon Poll
  • Dennis Franks- Director of Campus Safety and Police
  • Anthony Hatcher- Associate Professor of Communications
  • Rena Zito- Assistant Professor of Sociology

The discussion was directed towards listening to community members thoughts and opinions about gun control. According to the Washington Post and Shooting Tracker there have been over 1,000 mass shootings in the United States since 2013.

"I think a lot of us our frustrated [about gun control], but we can't focus on finding one simple solution. There's not one quick solution," said panelist Kenneth Fernandez.

One audience member raised the topic of gun control with mental health. He added the familiar saying: "Guns don't kill people; people kill people."

Despite the controversial topic, there was no tension between the audience and panel.

North Carolina Gun Laws Fact Sheet (source: Law Center to Prevent Gun Violence)

  • North Carolina requires a person to get a license or permit before purchasing a handgun (but not a rifle or a shotgun) and requires a background check before issuing a license or permit.
  • North Carolina imposes a felony on any person who attempts to sell, sells, gives or transfers in any way a handgun to a person under 18 years of age. But, it is not an offense if the handgun is:

    • Lent to the minor for lawful temporary use;

    • Transferred to an adult custodian and the minor takes only temporary possession as allowed by the adult custodian; or

    • A device distributed to a parent or guardian and the minor takes only temporary possession as allowed by the adult custodian

  • Non-firearms dealers are not subject to background checks in North Carolina, but federal and state purchaser prohibitions still apply.
  • North Carolina law prohibits the sale or transfer of a handgun to a person who has not obtained a permit to purchase a handgun or a concealed handgun permit.
  • State law prohibits transferring any deadly weapon or ammunition for firearms to any inmate of a charitable, mental or penal institution, or local confinement facility.

While these laws represent North Carolina's most current standard, the regulation is much more difficult. This is because of the "private sales loophole." The loophole says federal law does not require unlicensed (private) sellers to perform background checks on prospective purchasers and maintain all records on gun sales. According to the Law Center to Prevent Gun Violence, 40 percent of gun sales made in the United States are transferred by unlicensed sellers.

While the discussion prompted open dialogue with the Elon campus community, there was no clear solution raised as to how to enact change, at least not immediately.