The son of North Carolina Rep. Larry Pittman,
R-Cabarrus, used a firearm to commit suicide in a public park on Sunday, according to local reports.
From Albemarle, North Carolina’s Stanly News & Press:
"Shortly before 2 p.m. Graham Anthony Pittman ignored the pleas of park rangers and shot himself in the head while sitting inside his Jeep Cherokee, according to Tony Underwood, special agent in charge with the State Bureau of Investigation."
The report states that the younger Pittman, who was 28 and the father of two young children, shot himself in Morrow Mountain State Park in Stanly County, in full view of visitors, following a domestic dispute.
Rep. Pittman has championed expanding gun owner rights in the General Assembly and during his campaigns
for the District 82 House seat.
Pittman is the primary sponsor of a bill
filed Tuesday—the day after his son’s suicide—that would prohibit any local government employees from enforcing federal firearms laws, unless by court order. The bill, titled the Gun Rights and Privacy Act, would also repeal local prohibitions against carrying concealed weapons, and would streamline the handgun permit while traveling across state lines and “to make the purchase of a firearm more efficient.”
Finally, the bill would prohibit health care providers—including psychiatrists and psychologists—from questioning “competent patients about lawful activity related to firearms and ammunition.”
Pittman is a polarizing figure in the General Assembly. He has been behind many of the recent initiatives to allow carrying concealed weapons in public places where they were formerly prohibited, like the State Fair
. Pittman led the charge
to restore language in House Bill 937
that would allow people to carry guns in bars and restaurants in 2013.
Also in 2013, Pittman, a minister, slammed U.S. Sen. Thom Tillis, then N.C. Speaker of the House, in a video for allowing a bill that would establish a state religion in North Carolina to stall and die
Not surprisingly, Pittman vocally opposes same-sex marriage. He has called for doctors who perform abortions to be tried and punished with the death penalty.
But Pittman's son Graham did not appear to share his father's extreme views. On his Facebook page, which is still public, Graham Pittman alluded to identifying as an atheist. He shared a post from Equality North Carolina, the state's largest LGBT advocacy group, the day same-sex marriage became legal in North Carolina, with the comment "about time."
The Stanly News and Press
reports that Graham Pittman and his wife were married at Morrow Mountain, the site of his death, last October.
Rep. Pittman, and the bill’s other sponsor, Rep. Micahel Speciale
, R- Beaufort, Pamlico, Craven, have not responded to INDY Week’s messages. Sarah Green, the NC Chapter lead at Moms Demand Action for Gun Sense in America, said the group could not comment on House Bill 699 at this time.
"Our thoughts go out to Rep. Pittman's family," Green said. "Suicide is just one of the ways that gun violence affects Americans every day."
Check back with this blog for updates to this story.