CBS 17 by Greg Funderburg 

A North Carolina lawmaker is calling for safe storage laws to keep guns out of the hands of children. In a partisan Judiciary Committee hearing this week, U.S. Rep. Deborah Ross (D-NC) testified something needs to be done to save American lives.

“In North Carolina, guns are now the leading cause of injury or death for children surpassing car accidents and one of the reasons for this tragedy is the lack of safe storage across the country,” said Ross, who represents the 2nd District, most of which is in Wake County.

Speaking in a partisan hearing in Philadelphia this week, Ross cited the October 2022, Hedingham neighborhood mass shooting in Raleigh as an example.

“The shooter was a 15-year-old that took a firearm that he used to kill five people from his family home, and it was left unsecured,” she said.

Children having access to guns is something she said she would like to see changed. Nationally, Ross says 70 percent of school shootings are committed by children who have access to unsecured guns in their home.

Former North Carolina Superior Court Judge and state lawmaker Milton Fitch says it all really starts with common sense knowledge.

“I think you ought to ramp up education because laws can be made and what police force do you have to enforce it,” he said.

But Ross believes the implementation of safe storage laws along with other “smart” gun violence prevention policies will add tougher penalties. Right now, North Carolina has no law that requires unattended firearms to be stored in a certain way and does not require a locking device to accompany the sale of a firearm.

“Forty-two percent of households in my state own firearms, legally owned firearms, but half of those households do not have safe storage,” said Ross.

While former judge and lawmaker Mitch Fitch believes education could be the bipartisan message everyone could embrace.

“I think the ingredient that is missing is education for sure. Honestly, nobody can be opposed to telling kids and teaching what guns do,” said Fitch.

Project Child Safe is one of many organizations offering free educational resources to demonstrate the importance of firearm safety.