The 2021-22 school year has seen an increase of kids of all ages bringing firearms to school. This trend is happening statewide, occurring in both rural and urban areas. Sadly, Charlotte-Mecklenburg schools set a 10-year high of kids bringing guns to school just three months into the school year. In North Carolina, one out of three NC parents own a gun and over one in four of those parents' guns are unsecured. This is a problem, especially since most of the guns kids use in school shootings come from their home.
The Firearm Safe Storage Awareness Initiative bill (H.B.427) passed the North Carolina House in 2021, but the Senate failed to act. This bill would launch a statewide firearm safe storage awareness initiative to educate the public about the importance of safely storing firearms and facilitate the distribution of gun locks.
It's up to our lawmakers to fund statewide safe storage programs to keep kids and adults safe. In recent years, we've seen startling statistics validating the need for safe storage:
As a constituent, I am very concerned about the rise in gun violence in our state, and am writing to ask you to fund a statewide safe firearm storage awareness initiative and distribution of free gun locks. 2020 was the most violent year of the 21st century in North Carolina, with 1,699 firearm-related deaths. Safely storing firearms is one simple solution that can help address accidental shootings, school shootings, youth suicides, gun thefts from homes and cars, and the increasing number of firearms brought into schools.
North Carolinians urgently need safe firearm storage education. 105 NC kids under 18 died by guns in 2020, almost twice the number in 2019. During the 2021-22 school year, an alarming number of K-12 students have been bringing firearms into North Carolina schools, in both rural and urban counties. Charlotte-Mecklenburg schools set a 10-year record after only three months of school.
North Carolinians urgently need this safe storage campaign, and I urge you to fully fund it without delay. These measures were proposed during the 2021 legislative session as part of House Bill 427. This bill is eligible for consideration during the 2022 session and is currently in Senate Rules. Please pass this funding to keep NC children safe.