North Carolina

‘We need to do more:’ Gov. Cooper talks gun reform and GOP legislative gains in year-end interview

RALEIGH, NC (WTVD) — It’s the end of Gov. Roy Cooper’s sixth year as the mansion’s primary residence and he has met with ABC11 for a year-end interview marking the 10th anniversary of the Sandy Hook School massacre. And yesterday also marked two months since the mass shooting in Raleigh.

“We must be committed to doing more,” Cooper said of the prospect of meaningful gun safety legislation at the state level. “I support the second amendment and I believe most gun owners are responsible for it. But with the dramatic increase in the number of guns in our society, and with many people not knowing how to use them, we have seen a corresponding increase in gun violence and death.”

Cooper’s suggestions for possible legislation included safer gun storage legislation; stricter background checks; and “red flag laws” to keep guns out of the hands of potentially dangerous individuals.

Two years after his re-election, Cooper enjoys strong national sympathy numbers. The Washington Post has put him on a short list of potential candidates for the Democratic White House should President Joe Biden refuse to seek a second term.

WATCH: Full interview with Gov. Roy Cooper

Cooper spoke about why his popularity didn’t translate into more Democratic victories in the 2022 midterm election: Democrat Cheri Beasley was defeated by Republican Ted Budd in a hotly contested US Senate race, and Republicans regained a supermajority in the state Senate and were absent a supermajority vote in the State House.

“Well, this has been a mixed year for North Carolina Democrats. We won a significant number of seats in Congress. There are now seven Democrats and seven Republicans. Because there were fair (voting) cards,” Cooper said. “And the reason we lost some seats in the legislature is because the cards are not fair. And that made the difference.”

As for whether he’ll be able to maintain his veto power amid the GOP gains at Jones Street, Cooper said: “I believe we can. Especially when people realize that some of the legislation (Republicans) wanting to pass is not only in and wrong by itself, but will hurt our economy in North Carolina.”

“My vetoes were able to keep our General Assembly away from its worst impulses.”

In the run-up to the midterm campaigns, there were rumors that Cooper was considering a bid for Senator Richard Burr’s soon-to-be-vacated US Senate seat. After Beasley’s eventual defeat, Cooper says he has no regrets about not running.

“No (regretted), I promised the people of North Carolina that I wanted to be governor. And I wouldn’t have wanted the lieutenant governor (Republican Mark Robinson) to become governor, which would have happened if I had won,” Cooper said. “That’s why I want to be sure that I’m doing the job that people have chosen me for. And I’m looking forward to next year.”

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