Wake County to develop strategy to curb gun violence

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RALEIGH, N.C. (WNCN) – Wake County commissioners are trying to put a plan together to curb gun violence, looking at strategies other communities have undertaken and calling it a “glaring issue that needs addressing.”

“We know that gun violence is an issue everywhere, and it’s an issue in Wake County,” said Commissioner Matt Calabria. “This is the beginning of a process where we’re going to be looking into what we can do as a county to better minimize and combat gun violence.”

In a report commissioners received Monday, it notes Wake County falls below the state average for counties when it comes to violent deaths per 100,000 people.

“In 2016, North Carolina had 2,173 residents die from violence, about 63 percent of which were suicides and 33 percent of which were homicides,” the report reads.

In 2018, Wake County EMS responded to 159 calls for incidents involving firearms. In those cases, 31 involved deaths while the other 128 involved someone getting injured.

To view a map of where those incidents occurred most frequently go to this link and click on item 3.

The report notes, “Fifty-eight percent of suicides used a firearm, and 76.7 percent of those deaths involved a handgun (19). 75.8 percent of homicides used a firearm, and 75.5 percent of those deaths involved a handgun (36). For these reasons, policies targeting handguns may be more effective than those targeting other firearms in Wake County.”

Calabria said commissioners plan to study options such as: increasing availability of gun locks, more public education about safe firearm storage, reducing the supply of illegal guns and community-led violence intervention programs.

Commissioners noted steps Durham County has taken to try to combat gun violence, especially targeting certain neighborhoods. The county started Bull City United, which operates under the county health department.

“From 2016 to 2017 total shooting incidents in Durham increased from 703 to 729 but shooting incidents in Southside and McDougald Terrace—the two neighborhoods BCU operated in—dropped 12 percent and the number of people shot dropped 43 percent,” the Wake County report reads.

Calabria said commissioners will spend the next few months exploring different options as they develop their broader strategy for addressing the issue.

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