On Wednesday, two firearms were discovered on the campus of Hopewell High School in Huntersville, North Carolina. Though neither weapon was discharged, the school was put on lockdown, and five students were taken into custody. According to local authorities, one of the guns was loaded.
So far this year, according to WSOC-TV, 15 guns have been found in Charlotte-Mecklenburg Schools, including:
- 6 guns found at West Charlotte High School
- 2 guns found at West Mecklenburg High School
- 2 guns found at Hopewell High School
- 1 gun found at Mallard Creek High School
- 1 gun found at Myers Park High School
- 1 gun found at South Mecklenburg High School
- 1 gun found at Julius Chambers High School
- 1 gun found at Garinger High School
These incidents have not been isolated to this particular school system. As students returned to school this fall, communities across the state saw a growing trend of weapons being brought onto campuses. For example, in Winston-Salem Forsyth County Schools, five guns have been found on school grounds in the last month alone — according to local reporting, this is almost five times the county’s monthly average from the 2018-2019 school year.
While not all of these incidents involved shootings, the statewide trend falls on a national backdrop of record gun sales and increased instances of gunfire on school grounds. Between August 1 and September 30, at least 56 instances of gunfire were reported on school grounds, killing eight and wounding 35 — the most instances and people shot in that period since Everytown began tracking gunfire on school grounds in 2013.
State and local leaders in North Carolina should consider secure storage policies and other proactive solutions to stop guns from coming into schools in the first place. Research shows that to protect children and teens, gun owners should store guns unloaded, locked, and separate from ammunition. In incidents of gun violence at schools, up to 80 percent of shooters under 18 got the gun from home or the home of a friend or relative – and it’s estimated that 5.4 million children live in a home with at least one unlocked and loaded gun, an increase of 800,000 children since 2015.
Due to advocacy by volunteers with Moms Demand Action and Students Demand Action, more than 1.5 million students across the country now live in a school district that requires schools to educate parents about secure firearm storage. School boards across the country have enacted such notification policies, including in Vermont, Texas, California, Arizona, Oregon and Colorado – and school districts in North Carolina should follow suit. This work is part of Everytown’s comprehensive approach to keeping schools safe from all forms of gun violence.
Additionally, the Be SMART program, developed by the Everytown for Gun Safety Support Fund and Moms Demand Action, helps parents and other adults normalize conversations about gun safety and take responsible actions that can prevent child gun deaths and injuries.
The program encourages parents and adults to:
- Secure all guns in their home and vehicles
- Model responsible behavior around guns
- Ask about the presence of unsecured guns in other homes
- Recognize the role of guns in suicide
- Tell your peers to be SMART
For more information on the Be SMART program and how to safely secure your firearms, visit the Be SMART website. Additional information about unintentional shootings is here. If you are interested in speaking with a policy or research expert, please don’t hesitate to reach out.