5 Uncomfortable Truths About Living in North Carolina
1. You can purchase a gun on the spot with a permit, but health-threatening pregnancies cannot be terminated for 72 hours after receiving clearance.
North Carolina recently became the 4th state to implement a law requiring women to wait a full 3 days before having an abortion after consulting with a doctor. But, because clinics often provide services on only certain days of the week or fail to count weekends and holidays as a part of that waiting period, those 3 days can easily get extended. In cases where a woman’s health is in jeopardy, this wait can lead to procedures at a more advanced gestational age, which poses greater risks and can cause unnecessary pain and suffering to patients.
Additionally, the new restrictions require doctors to submit ultrasound images of the unborn child to the state’s Department of Health and Human Services if the abortion is performed after 16 weeks, without the patients’ consent. In a state where abortion clinics are already sparse, the mandatory waiting period also increases the likelihood of patient harassment directly outside of buildings, where protesters lurk on a near daily basis.
2. Welcome to the “heart of Klan country.”
Despite being considered one of the most progressive states in the South, North Carolina has historically been home to more Klan members than all other southern states combined. Originally formed in opposition to the Civil Rights movement in the 1960s, the Ku Klux Klan (KKK) and United Klans of America (UKA) amounted to some 13,000 members in the state at its peak.
Today, nine KKK chapters remain active, rallying behind widespread anger over illegal immigration, echoing sentiments of the Tea Party and Donald Trump’s presidential campaign. Members of the Loyal White Knights of the KKK are using HB2 (see next point) to recruit new members, distributing flyers with Civil Rights-era threatening rhetoric to locals. In the wake of the racially motivated mass shooting at Emanuel African Methodist Episcopal Church in South Carolina, those same members organized a rally to defend a public display of the Confederate flag as a symbol of “white people’s culture.” And there is certainly no shortage of Confederate symbolism seen throughout the state today.
3. The number of people killed by guns in North Carolina is more than twice the amount who were killed in combat while in the Afghanistan and Iraq wars over the last decade
According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, 11,102 people were killed with guns between 2004-2014 compared to the 5,315 killed in combat wars to fight terrorism in the Middle East. Last year, mass shootings in North Carolina occurred twice as often as the national average. Although we’re not the worst state on gun violence, we’re certainly among some of the worst.
Contributing to high rates of female homicide in particular, critics cite weak restrictions on domestic abusers and stalkers who possess firearms, combined with loopholes in the state’s law that allow locals to purchase rifles at gun shows or over the Internet without a background check. Despite the alarming statistics, the majority of North Carolinians, including gun owners and NRA members, support background checks for all gun sales.
4. We’re literally the worst state for teachers.
According to recent statistics from the National Center for Education Statistics and other groups, North Carolina ranked at or near the bottom across multiple categories, including teacher salary, public school funding per student, median annual salary, wage disparity and safety. Last year, the state’s average teacher salary was $45,933, nearly $10,000 less than the national average. As part of a flawed solution, Governor Pat McCrory agreed to research that would identify teacher quality as a means for rewarding teachers with higher rates of student academic achievement, which critics fear could create biases among school officials.
5. If you are transgender, you are not free to use restrooms associated with your gender identity.
In addition to the state’s long history of racial prejudices, North Carolina has recently been described by the New York Times as “a pioneer in bigotry” for banning local anti-discrimination policies affecting the LGBT community. In a measure to reverse a Charlotte ordinance, House Bill 2 (HB2) prevents transgender people from using bathrooms that correspond to the gender with which they identify. Republican proponents of the bill, signed by governor Pat McCrory, justify HB2 as a means to protect women and children from sexual predators in public restrooms.
But before you lose all faith in humanity, you should know that most North Carolinians don’t support HB2, and a number of groups, including the ACLU and Equality North Carolina, have filed lawsuits against the state. National outrage over the bill has not only hurt the state’s reputation, but also it’s economy, causing large businesses like PayPal to cancel expansion plans and entertainers to cancel venues. The British government has gone as far as issuing a travel advisory to LGBT citizens planning on visiting the state. Billions of federal education dollars are at stake from the US Justice Department as a bitter court battle ensues.