The news appears almost on a daily basis. It is a reality that we cannot escape. There has been an undeniable increase in the number of shooting cases in the Carolinas. This situation is creating a lot of fear in families. But why has there been an increase in shootings in North Carolina?
With the arrival of the COVID-19 pandemic, the country experienced a wave of violence. Although at the beginning of 2020 there was a drop in violent crime cases (largely due to the lockdowns), by 2021 things started to spiral out of control.
Mass shootings double
While there is no consensus on what is considered a mass shooting, the most accepted definition says it is a single incident in which four or more people are injured or killed in a shooting, usually at the same place and time.
There were 22 mass shootings in North Carolina in 2021, double the incidents recorded in 2018, according to the Gun Violence Archive.
As of May 1, there have been eight mass shootings in the state in 2022.
Mass shootings in North Carolina
Why has there been an increased number of shootings in North Carolina?
There are multiple factors that can help explain this plague of gun violence. Some point to an increase in high school dropouts or the elimination of after-school and summer programs due to the pandemic. Others speak of policies that have weakened the police (after numerous racial incidents), or of the frustrations caused by COVID-19. But there is another factor worth analyzing.
As is often the case in times of uncertainty, many people panicked. The result: an unprecedented increase in the purchase of firearms.
Nationwide, gun sales increased 65% in 2020, reaching a record of 23 million guns, and many of them were sold to first-time buyers.
Just to give an example, in Mecklenburg County, applications for gun purchase permits averaged 1,130 per month in 2019. During the month of October 2020 alone, the sheriff’s office received more than 13,000 applications.
More guns on the streets and in schools
We are not saying that gun buyers are running out to shoot their neighbors. However, official figures show that legal gun carriers can inadvertently contribute to this trend.
Recently, there has been an increase in thefts of firearms, which are often taken from inside vehicles. As of April, at least 239 guns have been reported stolen from vehicles in Charlotte, a 12% increase from 2021. Nearly half (42%) of those firearms were stolen in residential areas, and 66% were taken from vehicles that were unlocked.
Stolen guns too often end up in the hands of teens and young adults who use them. Likewise, there have been more cases of children bringing loaded firearms to schools this year.
What can we do?
It is difficult to change the culture and laws that promote the massive distribution of firearms, especially in the middle of an election year. Nevertheless, it is essential to reform our archaic system and implement barriers to prevent weapons from falling into the hands of teenagers, unstable people, and criminals.
If for any reason you have a firearm in your home or car, do everything in your power to keep it out of the reach of children and criminals. The lives of many people depend on your actions.
Find this article in Spanish here.
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