Fayetteville council members want study on the cost of gun violence

Monique John Image
Tuesday, February 7, 2023
Fayetteville examining cost of gun violence
Fayetteville councilman Mario Benavente has proposed that the city issue a study showing the economic effect of gun violence.

FAYETTEVILLE, N.C. (WTVD) -- Fayetteville council member Courtney Banks-McLaughlin is speaking out about losing her daughter to gun violence. Her testimony is surfacing as the city discusses solutions to stop its rise in shootings.

McLaughlin lost her daughter in a gun-related incident in October. She has said little publicly about it since then but spoke up about it at Monday night's council work session. She expressed support for council member Mario Benavente's proposal that the city issue a study showing the economic effect of gun violence on Fayetteville.

"It's needed," Banks-McLaughlin said. "I just lost my daughter four months ago and that affected my family and not just my family, the community and other family members have lost their children or lost loved ones. So I definitely support this effort. I think this will help figure out ways, again preventative ways, to decrease these numbers of crimes being committed -- especially for our youth."

Benavente put forward the idea after seeing that a county in California published a similar study last year.

"People tend to forget it's not simply the cost of putting people in jail and things like that that come to a community. Just overall, there's a loss of investment," Benavente said. "Until we get a detailed dollar figure like other communities have had, I don't think we're ever going to adequately address it."

The council voted in favor of advancing the idea to the upcoming city council meeting next Monday. Supporters say a study like this will show comprehensive, measurable data on gun violence that can help the police department.

"This is not just a city issue to solve," said Mayor Mitch Colvin, "it's counties, judicial, and all hands on deck are necessary. And having a road map, I think, that quantifies and points us in the right direction, is a positive thing."

However, council member Johnny Dawkins thinks there's there's a better starting point to tackle gun violence:

"We need to involve the school system. We need to involve the county of Cumberland. We need to involve the district attorney's office," Dawkins said. "We need to get a lot of subject-matter experts and just rushing off and creating some kind of study by ourselves -- I don't support that because it's not really going to do much good."

City Hall said officials are determining the costs and other necessary steps for conducting the study to help the council decide whether to keep pursuing the idea.