RALEIGH, N.C. (WNCN) — There were heavy hearts in Raleigh and Durham Thursday evening.

In Durham, a collection of faith leaders organized a vigil in downtown. They gathered to remember the victims of a school shooting in Uvalde, Texas.

At the Bicentennial Mall in downtown Raleigh, community members also gathered for a vigil and protest.

“These children were alive when their parents fed them. Waved at them,” Gerald Givens, president of the Raleigh-Apex NAACP, said tearfully.

The pictures of the victims from the shootings in Uvalde and at a Buffalo, New York, grocery store were front and center — along with concerns.

“These are the victims of gun violence that is rupturing our country and destroying our nation,” one speaker said.

The Carolina Peace Center organized the vigil in Raleigh Thursday. They want state and federal lawmakers to ban assault weapons.

They also want them to implement thorough background checks. They are demanding lawmakers pass what they call “common-sense” gun laws.

North Carolina House Speaker Tim Moore said Thursday that in 2018, the state spent a great deal of resources investing in school safety.

“I believe the thing we need to do more is really to address the behavioral health,” Moore said.

He said the state needs to invest more.

“There’s got to be some mental health issues that are underlying, those kinds of things, that someone is so disturbed,” Moore said.

However, The Carolina Peace Center said there is a better way.

“We cannot make this normal. If we cannot be safe. We cannot be free,” said Givens.