North Carolina Sen. Jay Chaudhuri moderates panel on gun control on National Walkout Day

Senator Jay Chaudhuri

The Indian American lawmaker calls for “more money toward mental health.”

Sen. Jay Chaudhuri, the first Indian American legislator of North Carolina, moderated a live student panel on gun violence and student safety on the National Walkout Day.

The discussion, which was streamed live on Facebook Live and Twitter Periscope on Wednesday, was co-hosted by Wake County PTA Council and Moms Demand Action.

The discussion and the student protests across the county on March 14 were in the backdrop of the recent mass shooting at the Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School in Florida, which claimed 14 lives.

The panel, which had Kaaren Haldeman from Moms Demand Action as a co-moderator, discussed the changes the panelists wanted to see with regard to gun violence and school safety in the United States and in North Carolina.

“I think there are a lot of opportunities for us to find common ground, including make sure we put more money toward mental health,” Chaudhuri said.

One of the participating students, Nathan Koch, of Cary High School, said the number of people dying and their body counts are going to rise if we don’t “actually do something.”

Another student who participated in the panel said: “It happened in Parkland. It could very easily happen in Raleigh, in Durham, in Chapel Hill, at Enloe High School.”

The same day, Roy Cooper, the Governor of North Carolina, posted a few recommendations with the title “Our Kids Deserve Action” on Medium.

His recommendations included raising the legal age of sale of weapons to age 21, conducting background checks to keep guns out of the wrong hands, need for better diagnosis and treatment of people with mental illness, and increasing the number of school personnel who receive youth and adult mental health first aid training to provide guidance for how to help them in both crisis and non-crisis situations.

Nelson Dollar, a Republican member of the North Carolina House of Representatives, who serves on that House Republican committee, formed to study school safety and make recommendations on legislation, responded to Cooper’s recommendations: “Well, we will certainly look at a range of things the governor has recommended as well as a range of other recommendations and other procedures. Everything will be on the table. We certainly want to be sure that we can protect our children at school as well as make sure that we protect individuals’ constitutional rights.”

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