About 14 out of every 100,000 people in North Carolina were killed by a gun in 2016, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. That may not seem like a lot. That may not seem like enough to worry. I think it is. I think it’s more than enough. More people in my state died from guns in 2016 than any of the previous 35 years. I used to take walks around my neighborhood at night. I used to go play in my backyard after 9:00 p.m. Now I am scared to walk the 30 paces from my car to my front door.
Walking in town, I have seen people with guns. Gun violence was scary enough, but then it kind of forced itself into my mind. I haven’t been able to let it go or forget about it. It just sits there, slowly growing. I’ve been to a bus stop where someone was shot. People have pretty easy access to guns in Durham. It is partially my job to keep my family safe, and it is getting harder and harder to promise that I can. When I was a little girl, Durham was this beautiful city where I could go anywhere and do anything. Now, with the added responsibilities of getting older, it’s scary to see my town in this light.
This is a very important issue to address because I really love the cool, artsy community of Durham, and I don’t want that to change. I first realized how much I cared about this three months ago. I was at home and had just finished my homework. I turned on my phone, opened YouTube, and started scrolling through the videos, just like normal. The news category always scrolled by, but it was usually something about politics or some new guy voted into office. I never really looked at the news. But that day a headline caught my eye. It said that eight drive by shootings had occurred in the past 24 hours. I quickly scrolled past, trying to erase the words from my mind. The next evening, as I got out of my car, a big green minivan drove by, and I’ll admit that I sprinted inside. The news story had been seared into my brain to the point where I was doing irrational things. That minivan was a perfectly normal car. I had been so skittish the past couple of days that I wasn’t enjoying anything. I decided I had to do something.
For the past few months, I’ve been researching, brainstorming, and writing about gun violence. I wrote a piece quite similar to this one, and I am going to send it to North Carolina’s senators and my local representatives. I have also learned that many think the answer is to install more police. I have come to the conclusion that guns are the problem. We need better background checks, and we need to completely cut off use of military-grade weapons. I mean, come on, they’re made for killing humans. If we want to prevent gun violence, we need to prevent guns as well.
As of now, there are two kinds of permits surrounding gun laws: the first is required to purchase a gun; the other is required if you want to carry your gun concealed. The first one is called a purchase permit. You have to be 20 years old and a U.S. citizen or a permanent resident. You must also have been a resident of a North Carolina county for at least 30 days. You have to apply for the permit at the sheriff’s office in the county where you live. North Carolina is an open carry state, which means that if you have a gun, you’re allowed to carry it visibly. In order to get a concealed carry permit, you must apply separately. The requirements are generally the same as those for the purchase permit. Maybe it’s just me, but that seems a bit too easy. All you really have to do is be a citizen and apply. How will we be able to tell if someone intends to do harm with their gun? Better safe than sorry, or in this case, better alive than dead.
Our politicians need to act now, and we need to speak up now. Gun violence is a huge issue. A few people might not make a big difference, but if everyone who reads this pitches in just a little bit, we can help start the change. We can do it only if we all help out, and we all spread the word. We can also make it fun! For example, I am going to hold a letter writing party for my friends. I’m going to make cookies and lemonade, and buy some snacks! With a bunch of people all supporting the same change, we can really make an impact. People may have different perspectives on guns, but I think all of us want our communities to stay safe.