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Political notebook: Lawmakers tasked with action rather than ‘thoughts and prayers’ following shooting

As reports from Wednesday’s school shooting in Florida flowed in, North Carolina lawmakers were quick to respond with messages of proffered prayer and condolences.

These messages were similar in nature for three local congressmen, each generating ire-filled responses among constituents.

Representative Ted Budd, R-13, was first to respond. 

“I’m speechless. As a parent of three, I can’t begin to imagine the pain this evil act has inflicted on these innocent children and their families,” said Budd. “My prayers are with the people of Parkland.”

Rep. Richard Hudson, R-8, said the event was “truly heartbreaking.”

“My wife Renee and I are praying for these students, teachers, and their families,” he said. “We are grateful for the first responders and law enforcement officials who are continuing to work to protect this community.”

Senator Thom Tillis requested thoughts and prayers for victims, their families, first responders and the community. But thoughts and prayers were not what citizens were seeking.

“As a constituent, I ask that you show leadership and do something,” said Matt Kopac on Tillis’ Twitter. “Thoughts and prayers have value, but alone have the air of empty gestures and give the indication of an unwillingness to act. Tell us, what will you do?”

Many voiced similar requests across social media, seeking new legislation and gun control to prevent similar tragedies.

Commenting North Carolina congressmen were faulted for more than ongoing inaction. Tillis, Budd and Hudson each were chastised for accepting support from the National Rifle Association during their campaigns.

For their 2016 campaigns, Budd and Hudson received $3,000 and $4,950 from the association respectively. Tillis received $9,900 for his 2014 bid for office.

Local member of Rowan County Democrats, George Benson, said he was appalled that Budd, a gun shop owner, would comment on the shooting.

“(He is) as responsible as the boy that pulled the trigger again and again and again …,” Benson said. “Innocent victims, kids, anyone shot, their blood is on (his) hands as well as the other beneficiaries of the NRA lobby money.”

Hudson received additional darts for recent legislative efforts to increase concealed carry reciprocity: an effort that would make licenses recognized nationally.

Twitter user Emily Bahret said Hudson’s bill, called the Concealed Carry Reciprocity Act, canceled out his prayers.

Some would speak in favor of the legislation — and of Second Amendment rights. Elizabeth Nervenga offered her support to Hudson, specifically.

“Of all these replies, I saw no one who stands with you in defending our (Second Amendment) rights,” said Nervegna. “Well, I’m with you. We should push to repeal gun free zones, not reciprocity. Perhaps if trained security officers, teachers and other school staff were allowed to carry, this would happen less often.”

Two more to make bids for U.S. House of Representatives in District 8

The race for North Carolina’s 8th district in the House of Representatives started slow, remaining uncontested until early December last year.

Now, four Democrats have announced candidacies against Republican incumbent Richard Hudson. They are Horace Stainback, Frank McNeill, Scott Huffman and Marc Tiegel.

Stainback, an industrial engineer and registered dental hygienist, entered the race in early December. McNeill and Huffman followed less than two weeks later, with Tiegel joining in late January.

Huffman and Tiegel slid into the race with little media coverage, but their campaigns are gaining speed. Huffman boasts a following of over 1,000 on his campaign’s Facebook. Tiegel, in a little over two weeks, has amassed nearly 200.

A native to Spencer, Huffman is a Navy veteran and owner of a small technology business. He’s running after personally experiencing the impact of harmful legislation on his business.

“Our elected representatives passed laws to favor monopolies and crush small businesses,” he said on his website. “It made it harder to compete, innovate and hire new employees. The military never trained me on how to lay off employees.  It was heartbreaking.”

If elected, Huffman said he will work to improve jobs and wages, job training, education, infrastructure, veteran care and health care.

Former-educator Tiegel, of Concord, said he’d hold similar priorities for a better education system, health care system, and economy.

“Together, we can make sure that Americans don’t have to choose between going to the doctor and paying their rent,” he said in a statement released last Monday. “Together, we can provide our kids access to opportunities they deserve, regardless of where they live, or what family they come from.”

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