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North Carolina Students Join Nationwide Walkout To Protest Gun Violence

Source: Editorial Board

Following the mass shooting at an elementary school in Tennessee in March, thousands of students across the country walked out of classes to demand lawmakers take action on gun safety.

Students across the state, including in Durham, Charlotte and Greensboro also participated in the nationwide protest against increasing gun violence. For many students in the Triad, this is the second year they have participated in a walkout, with last May’s school shooting in Uvalde, Texas prompting hundreds of students to demand gun safety measures.

“It’s sad. It’s disheartening,” Jordan Parker, a senior at Durham School of Arts, told WRAL. “I’d like to see a difference – more legislation on guns. We need change. We’re calling for it.

“If you don’t do anything, then nothing will happen,” Parker added. “We feel what’s important is we showed up and showed out today. And if the same thing needs to happen next year, hopefully, they carry on and keep showing their voice and support.”

According to data by EdWeek, there have been 14 school shootings that have resulted in injury or death in 2023 thus far. EdWeek also reports a staggering 51 school shootings took place last year that killed 40 people—32 students and 8 staff—injuring 100 others.

This data comes as North Carolina Republicans voted to loosen gun restriction laws less than 48 hours after the Nashville mass shooting. Under the repeal of the state’s pistol purchase permit measure, law enforcement no longer has a critical tool in stopping the purchase of a deadly weapon, regardless of an individual’s history of domestic violence or serious mental health problems. 

State Democrats have proposed multiple bills that would counter loosened protections, proposing legislation that is aimed at reducing gun violence, and deaths statewide through restrictions on certain firearms and new permit requirements. However, the gun safety measures have had pushback in the Republican-led General Assembly following the repeal of the pistol purchase permit law.

“The constant barrage of school shooting news makes many of us live in fear that our school will be next. I should not have to leave my home each morning wondering if I’ll get to return to it. I should not have to say I love you, goodbye to my parents before leaving for school, wondering if I’ll ever see them again,” said Tessa Fulcher, an 8th grader at Trinity Episcopal School in Charlotte.

The latest shooting occurred at South Central High School in Greenville on April 6, in which a 16-year-old student was injured when a gun accidentally discharged on a school bus.

“Firearms have become the number one cause of death for children and adolescents in the United States, surpassing even motor vehicle deaths. Guns are too accessible and easy to fall into the wrong hands,” said Whitney Oakley, superintendent at Guilford County Schools, at a school board meeting earlier this month.

“While we cannot solve the nation’s gun epidemic on our own, we must use our voices to advocate for common-sense laws to keep students and staff safe. We must do it for students, for our teachers and staff, and for our community.”

According to WRAL, more than 20 instances of threats or guns occurred at Triangle-area schools in February. These threats of gun violence and weapons are widespread, with reports primarily happening in Wake, Durham, and Johnston counties. “Enough is enough, we need change,” said Monica Martinez, a student at Trinity Episcopal School. “It’s way too common, [in] all of those schools, someone died, or someone was injured, and I believe that we need to take control, we need gun control because many innocent children and teachers are dying because of this.”

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