Gun Violence in NC is On the Rise

We need reform now more than ever.

On October 13th, gun violence threw Raleigh into the depths of tragedy. The primary suspect, fifteen-year-old Austin Thompson, would be held responsible for the deaths of 5 people–one of which being his sixteen-year-old brother, James. Witnesses describe the perpetrator as “looking like a baby.” Yet he left his entire community frozen in shock from his actions. Only three days after the tragedy, 29-year-old Rodney Manning fired his gun in the same neighborhood.

The Raleigh shooting may be the most tragic, but gun violence in NC has been on the rise all month. On October 17th, two people were shot (with several more injured) at Livingston University’s Homecoming Concert. Talib Kelly, 21, was charged with attempted first-degree murder.

“I am saddened because our students, alumni, family, and friends were exposed to this senseless act of violence,” Livingston President Anthony Davis said in response to the horror.

The next day, an innocent 61-year-old man was shot in the neck and killed during a conflict in Winston-Salem. The suspect managed to flee the scene, leaving the once-peaceful neighborhood now stricken with grief. There were also gunshots fired in Cary High on October 12th; nobody was injured in the “accidental discharges,” but the mere fact that a student brought a gun into school without any suspicions remains scary enough. 

Cary Chief of Police Terry Sult feels relief that the situation didn’t escalate. “I think we were very fortunate that it occurred in the way it did,” Sult said. 

Yes, we are fortunate. But we are also terrified.

NC has the 17th highest rate of gun violence in the US, with over a thousand deaths each year. These statistics are from 2021, but it’s a fair assumption that they will have risen by the time the 2022 report releases. It feels like we’re facing a new tragedy every day, another horrific act of violence that leaves nothing but pain and suffering in its wake.

NC’s gun laws are relatively loose. We have no provisions on carrying confidentiality or carrying in restaurants. If one wants to buy a gun, they don’t need an NC state license. In 2019, we were third in the country in measuring firearms lost or stolen; 576 firearms were lost or stolen in just that year. Anyone could procure a gun, which means anyone could go out and contribute to this growing culture of violence.

Shootings like these may have seemed distant in the past, but this month, these tragedies have jumped out of our news screens and into our lives. They hit us in our hearts and our homes. I’m sitting here in my classroom, looking through the glass wall to the front door of our school, and I’m struck with the realization that absolutely anyone could come in right now, gun in their backpack, and nobody would know until it was too late. That isn’t some crazy nightmare scenario. It’s a real possibility.

Our community has been directly affected time and time again, and it’s time for policy to come in and prevent the cycle from persisting. If we want anything to change, we must bring that change ourselves. The Washington Post lists multiple reform plans, from household-based laws like requiring locking guns away from kids to community-based restrictions on the number of guns one can buy. Any of these plans could reduce the harrowing statistics in NC. North Carolinians Against Gun Violence have volunteering opportunities, programs, and places to donate. And, of course, as citizens, we can contact our senators directly.

Gun violence in NC will persist until we strengthen our laws and the laws of our country. We need gun reform, and we need it before more innocent people get hurt in the crossfire.