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The Daily Tar Heel

Editorial: School shootings are back, and they've impacted North Carolina

A student was killed in a shooting at Mount Tabor High School in Winston-Salem, N.C., on Wednesday, Sept. 1, 2021. Photo Courtesy of Viorel Margineanu/Dreamstime/TNS.

Droves of kids returned to the classroom in North Carolina this academic school year — some for the first time since early March 2020. Already in the first few weeks, we have witnessed two separate school shootings in the state.

On Aug. 30, a student was shot at New Hanover High School in Wilmington. A 15-year-old student was later charged with bringing a weapon onto school grounds, discharging a weapon on school grounds, assault with a deadly weapon, intent to kill or inflict serious injury and attempted first-degree murder. The victim was taken to the hospital with no life-threatening injuries, and is expected to recover.

Two days later, one student was killed in a shooting at Mount Tabor High School in Winston-Salem, and at least one other student suffered a seizure as a result of the shooting trauma. Later, the shooter was captured without incident.

Before the pandemic, school shootings occurred at an alarming rate. More people have already died from mass school shootings in the past 18 years than in the entire 20th century, according to ScienceDaily. A 2019 CNN report found at least 177 of America’s schools had experienced a school shooting since the decade prior.

For students growing up in our generation, school shootings became all too common. Images from the tragedies at Sandy Hook Elementary School and Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School still flash through our minds every time they are discussed.

Specifically in North Carolina, mass shootings are trending in the wrong direction. Last year, the state reported 20 mass shootings that killed 26 people — almost double from the year prior — when the state had 11 mass shootings that killed 13 people.

Yet, in the wake of increased gun violence, Republicans lawmakers want to make guns more accessible. In August, the N.C. Senate approved House Bill 398 that would eliminate the state’s requirement that a handgun buyer must obtain a permit from the local sheriff before making a purchase.

Gov. Roy Cooper later vetoed the bill, arguing the state can't repeal a system that has worked to save lives. 

"The legislature should focus on combating gun violence instead of making it easier for guns to end up in the wrong hands," Cooper said in a press release. 

North Carolina Attorney General Josh Stein, pleaded with legislators to consider “the serious threat to public safety this legislation carries and reject it.”

While gun-rights supporters argue for more access, gun-control advocates warn this type of legislation would create a legal loophole that allows for people with a history of mental illness and domestic violence to obtain a weapon and potentially commit violence.

It is deeply troubling that as lawmakers attempt to make guns more accessible, we've witnessed two tragic shootings. It's an unfortunate sign of what state lawmakers are enabling.


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