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

Joel Brown Image
Friday, December 16, 2022
Gov. Cooper talks gun reform, GOP legislative gains
EMBED <>More Videos

It's the close of Gov. Roy Cooper's sixth year as the executive mansion's primary resident and he sat down with ABC11 for an end-of-year interview on the 10th anniversary of the massacre at Sandy Hook School.

RALEIGH, N.C. (WTVD) -- It's the close of Gov. Roy Cooper's sixth year as the executive mansion's primary resident and he sat down with ABC11 for an end-of-year interview on the 10th anniversary of the massacre at Sandy Hook School. And also yesterday marked two months since the mass shooting in Raleigh.

"We have to be resolved to do more," Cooper said about the prospect of meaningful gun-safety legislation passing at the state level. "I support the second amendment and I believe most gun owners are responsible. But with the dramatic increase in the number of guns in our society and a lot of people not knowing how to handle them, we've seen a corresponding increase in gun violence and death."

Cooper's proposals for potential legislation included safer gun-storage laws; stronger background checks; and "red flag laws" to keep guns out of the hands of potentially dangerous people.

Two years since his re-election, Cooper enjoys strong statewide favorability numbers. The Washington Post named him on a short list of potential Democratic White House contenders if President Joe Biden declines to seek a second term.

WATCH: Full interview with Gov. Roy Cooper

Cooper talked about why his popularity did not translate to more Democratic wins in the 2022 midterm elections: Democrat Cheri Beasley was defeated by Republican Ted Budd in a hotly-contested U.S. Senate race and Republicans regained a supermajority in the State Senate and came one vote shy of a supermajority in the State House.

"Well, this was a mixed year for Democrats in North Carolina. We were able to gain significant numbers of Congressional seats. There are now seven Democrats and seven Republicans. Because there were fair (voting) maps," Cooper said. "And the reason we lost some seats in the legislature is because the maps are not fair. And that made all the difference."

On whether he will be able to sustain his veto power amid the GOP gains on Jones Street, Cooper said, "I believe that we can. Particularly when people recognize that some of the legislation (Republicans) want to pass is not only wrong in and of itself, but will hurt our economy in North Carolina."

"My vetoes have been able to keep our General Assembly away from their worst impulses."

In the lead-up to midterm campaigns, there were rumblings that Cooper was considering a bid for Sen. Richard Burr's soon-to-be-vacant U.S. Senate seat. After Beasley's eventual defeat, Cooper says he has no regrets about not running.

"No (regrets), I promised the people of North Carolina that I wanted to be governor. And I would not have wanted the lieutenant governor (Republican Mark Robinson) to become governor, which would have happened when I won," Cooper said. "So I want to be sure I'm doing the job people elected me to do. And I'm looking forward to the next year."

WATCH | Gov. Cooper weighs in on the looming abortion battle at General Assembly