On Friday, August 30, shots rang out at Carver High School in Winston-Salem, NC. A student had pulled out a gun and shot another student during a fire drill.
This didn’t happen in Colorado, Connecticut, or New Jersey. We didn’t hear about it on the national nightly news and we didn’t read about it in the New York Times.
It happened here. We read about it in our local paper. And each one of us took a sharp intake of breath, hoping our family or friends in the area were not affected.
After the shooting, local police and school officials held a press conference to reassure the community that Carver High School was a safe place.
But that’s not all. This was the second gun incident at Carver High School this year. A student brought a gun to the school in January. In a separate incident, four people– including an 11-year-old– got shot at the end of an anti-violence event last Thursday in Charlotte, only days after a Charlotte woman died from a shooting in her home. In Greenville, a 26-year-old woman died after getting shot in her car at an intersection– shaking the eastern North Carolina community again after a gunman shot four people at a law firm there in June.
I could keep going. Every day in the U.S., an average of 289 people gets shot. A firearm kills one person every 17 minutes. More kids ages 0-19 died from firearms every three days in 2010 than died in the Newtown, C.T. massacre. North Carolina ranks 15th in the country for the number of gun-related crimes, including data compiled for firearm deaths among women and children from 2001 – 2010.
Following the 2012 massacre in Newtown, C.T., we saw a renewed push for gun safety measures in Congress. But even the most widely supported measure, universal background checks for gun buyers, failed by six votes in the U.S. Senate. The national uproar over gun violence in the United States doesn’t seem so loud anymore.
But it should be.
Gun violence has become a problem in our communities. It should remain at the top of local, state, and national dialogue. Our school officials should not have to hold a press conference to convince us of the safety of community public schools. A mother should not have to bury her child because of a gun. The number of gun deaths among children should not outnumber soldiers injured in Afghanistan.
There is nothing more important than the safety and security of our children. We should continue looking for a solution to end the epidemic of gun violence in our country. The last thing we should do is wait until the next tragedy occurs to take action– because that’s when it will be too late.