Gun violence still on the rise even as Durham authorities take more than 700 weapons off the streets

Durham County News

DURHAM, N.C. (WNCN) — Durham authorities have been busy taking guns off the streets this year.
According to Durham Police, they have seized 582 guns from Jan. 1 through Dec. 5.

The Durham County Sheriff’s Office has seized or recovered 213 weapons in 2020 during 94 incidents, according to sheriff officials.

The Sheriff’s Office said that 126 of those weapons were taken off the streets as a result of criminal investigations during which 26 people were charged with possession of a firearm by a felon.

But even though more than 700 weapons have been recovered, multiple shootings are still occurring on a weekly basis in the Bull City.

So far this year there have been 882 shooting incidents and 291 people have been shot in Durham, according to data from the Durham Police Department.

“The number of guns in Durham that have been seized is just a small drop in the bucket of the problem I think,” said North Carolina State Representative Marcia Morey (D) from Durham.

Morey has written and pushed for stricter gun legislation that would allow law enforcement agencies to destroy firearms that they have seized.

“There is a limitation that sheriffs cannot destroy weapons, they have to be resold into the market, and we think that’s a bad idea,” Morey said.

Morey has also pushed for legislation that would require gun owners to properly secure their weapons and report them stolen or missing, or else they will be charged.

Durham police told CBS 17 that 348 guns had been stolen so far this year and 182 (52 percent) were taken from motor vehicles.

According to the Durham County Sheriff’s Office, they are investigating 30 gun thefts and an additional three that were reported lost.

“We don’t have tough enough laws,” Morey said. “You have to keep them (guns) safe, whether you securely lock them or keep them in safe storage.”

Morey said her proposed gun legislation did not go anywhere last session, but she plans to re-introduce similar legislation this upcoming session.

But are stricter gun laws enough?

Some have raised concerns about defendants charged with possession of firearm by felon getting released too early.

For instance, Armand Lewis-Langston, 23, was charged with possession of a firearm by felon on October 22nd. He was given a $25,000 secured bond and was released from jail the same day.

But three weeks later, he was one of two men charged with shooting an off-duty Durham County Sheriff Deputy at a stoplight at the intersection of NC Highway 98 and S. Mineral Springs Road.

Authorities arrested Lewis-Langston at his home on Scheer Avenue on November 18th where they seized multiple weapons at his home.

CBS 17 reached out to the Durham County District Attorney’s Office to find out why Lewis-Langston was released the same day of his arrest.

The DA’s Office declined an interview related to Lewis-Langston’s case for ethical reasons because his case is still pending.

But the DA’s Office said in an email that generally judges and magistrates set pretrial release conditions and if a secured bond is set, when a defendant is released depends on if they post their bond.

“When I was a judge, firearm use and possession, that was a red flag of possible future dangers,” Morey said. “You have to do your best to predict and keep people safe.”

The DA’s office did tell CBS 17 in an email that after a weapon is seized – for cases involving guns and domestic violence cases, the DA’s office asks the court to order that defendants formally forfeit their weapons.

This prevents the defendants from being able to petition to have those weapons returned after the case is resolved.

The DA’s office said that if the gun was stolen and the lawful owner is known, prosecutors will petition to have it returned to the rightful owner.

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