WILMINGTON, N.C. (WECT) - A group of local Democrats gathered together Wednesday to protest recent mass shootings and police brutality. They also condemned Congressman David Rouzer for what they view as his failure to act to protect his constituents from police and gun violence. They called on citizens to contact his office and demand action.
This comes as Governor Roy Cooper has ordered flags to fly at half-staff to honor the ten people gunned down at a Boulder, Colorado grocery store on Monday. Investigators are still working to determine why the alleged shooter, 21-year-old Ahmad Al Aliwi Alissa, opened fire. Early reports indicate he suffered from paranoia, and was bullied while in high school about his name and race. He moved to the United States from Syria as a child.
The Denver Post reports that Alissa purchased the gun he allegedly used in the rampage six days prior.
That incident was the second mass shooting in the country in just one week. Robert Long, also 21-years-old, is accused of shooting and killing eight people at three different Asian spas in Atlanta. Early reports indicate that Long had been treated for sexual addiction, and was emotional after being kicked out of his parents house. His exact motive for the shooting is unclear, but authorities say he bought the gun just hours before the mass shootings.
Protestors pointed out that Rep. Rouzer voted against the Enhanced Background Checks Act of 2021, a bill that would require a 10-day waiting period for someone trying to buy a gun. It passed the House despite Republican opposition. Second Amendment advocates are generally opposed to any new law that would further restrict the rights of gun owners.
“I don’t see this as a Democrat or Republican issue,” protestor Herb Harton said. “It’s an American issue that’s hurting the American people. We need for the Congress, for Democrats and Republicans to get together and do something about gun violence. Lord knows it’s time.”
Rouzer also recently opposed the George Floyd Justice in Policing Act, which would outlaw the use of chokeholds by police officers, require the use of body cameras by police, and make it easier to sue police who use excessive force. That bill also passed the U.S. House along party lines.
“I voted against the Democrat’s bill, H.R. 1280, because it is based on the premise that all of law enforcement are bad actors, which is the complete opposite of the truth,” Rep. Rouzer explained when asked about his vote. “To help make improvements where needed, I am a co-sponsor of H.R. 677 — The Justice Act, which offers real solutions to increase transparency, accountability, and proper training so our nation’s law enforcement officers can ensure the safety of all communities they serve.”
Sonya Bennetone-Patrick, the chairperson for 7th District NC Dems, disputed the idea that the George Floyd act went too far.
“All lives matter, and black lives matter. And when black lives matter, all lives will matter. And that we don’t feel safe. As African Americans we don’t feel safe with law enforcement. If this bill is passed, it will bring some confidence back into our system and it will also bring a little more transparency, and we’ll feel a little bit more comfortable,” Bennetone-Patrick said.
In response to the protestors demands for gun control measures, Rouzer issued the following response:
“It is standard practice for many anti-gun advocates to use a shooting to go after the rights of law abiding Americans who choose to own a firearm — as though a change in law or the banning of guns would make a difference. It would not. It would be far more productive to address the root causes of those committing violent acts. As has been the case with other acts of gun violence over the years, this particular perpetrator was a mentally disturbed young man.
“We need to be asking the question why so many of our youth are suffering from mental illness. Why are they so desensitized? Is it what they read and watch? Is it a lack of the moral and spiritual teachings necessary for a civilized society? These are the questions for debate — not should we be taking away the rights of those who choose to own a firearm to protect themselves or for any other legal purpose.”