Tuesday Morning

Breakfast Forum
Charlotte, NC


 Home   ●   Where We Meet   ●   News   ●   Announcements   ●   Events   ●   About Us   ●   Contact Us   ●   Search   ●  


Durham activist: Reduce the killing by restricting N.C. sales of bullets

Dec. 9, 2008

He was in Charlotte in the late 1960s organizing neighborhoods and workers. Today he's in Durham organizing and pastoring a church. And the Rev. Melvin Whitley is on tour this week to encourage grassroots leaders throughout North Carolina to support restrictions on who may buy the bullets that take the lives of hundreds of mostly poor black Tar Heels each year.

Whitley, pictured at right, made his case to the Tuesday Morning Breakfast Forum. He was scheduled to address Charlotte NAACP leaders later in the day, and move on to Fayetteville and Raleigh later this week.

Under current law, Whitley said, it is illegal for a felon to possess a bullet. But it is not illegal for a store clerk to sell the bullet to the felon.

Whitley's approach to closing that loophole is borrowed from Illinois. People wanting to buy bullets would get a license from the local sheriff. Felons and others specified in the law would be ineligible for the license.

With such a system in place, Whitley believes, merchants' fear of liability for gun violence would take over and store owners would make sure not to sell bullets to those without the license. Whitley acknowledged that police do not have the resources to enforce the law by themselves.

Felons are already banned from purchasing guns. But Whitley said most guns used in felonies were stolen. A felon with a stolen gun can buy as much ammunition as he has money.

Questioned about the underlying social ills that lead some people to violence, Whitley acknowledged all of those social issues. But mostly poor, mostly urban, mostly minority communities need relief from the violence before those social ills can be addressed, he said. And stopping  bullet sales is a relatively simple, common-sense solution that people can actually put into action.

Whitley provided to the Forum three Microsoft Word documents. An outline of the Stop the Bullet crusade he is leading is here. A proposed text of the legislative measure is here. Whitley's biography is here.

Under questioning, Whitley acknowledged that his positioning of the proposal as a gun safety initiative was at root an attempt to avoid a head-on collision with what he called "the capitalists" who lobby the leglslature and oppose most initiatives that they see as restrictions on their right to sell anything to anyone at any time.












The Forum welcomes all persons to its meetings beginning at 8 a.m. most Tuesdays of the year
at the West Charlotte Recreation Center, 2222 Kendall Drive, Charlotte, NC
down the hill from West Charlotte High School.