RALEIGH, N.C. (WTVD) -- As Thanksgiving approaches, a home usually filled with joy will be much quieter this year.
"We hosted. We had a lot of fun with it. Mary went to culinary school. She loved cooking," recalled Robert Steele, referring to his late fiancée Mary Marshall, one of five people shot and killed during last month's mass shooting in the Hedingham community.
While he's been inundated with offers and invites for get-togethers on Thursday, Steele said it's still too difficult.
"I'm going to stay home. And be thankful for what I have and the time that I had," said Steele.
In the weeks following her death, Steele has turned his mourning into motivation, using a platform he never wished to have to address escalating gun violence.
"I ask myself every day, 'what would Mary want me to do when I get up in the morning?' She would not want me to just sit and wallow. She would want me to honor her memory, to honor the memories of the others killed in Hedingham, the others that have been killed in other shootings," said Steele.
According to The Gun Violence Archive, there have been 608 mass shootings in the United States this year, a figure which is more than double the amount from just eight years ago.
"How many more people have to be killed before we say enough is enough? Well, apparently we haven't hit that number yet. I don't think we're ever going to. Because if we were we would have already. We would have the first time kids were killed in schools," said Steele.
Last week, the North Carolina Department of Health and Human Services released a report, referring to gun violence as a "public health problem" and "equity issue," highlighting increasing incidents amongst children.
"It happens all over the country and it happens every day, and it's frustrating because we work so hard to educate the public on gun violence, we've worked so hard to advocate for common sense gun regulations, and we're not being listened to," said Madhavi Krevat, the North Carolina Campaigns Lead for Moms Demand Action for Gun Sense in America.
Krevat started her advocacy work following the 2018 Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School shooting in Parkland, Florida, and shared her son's friend was injured in the 2019 shooting at the University of North Carolina at Charlotte.
"If we are numb, we shouldn't be. We should all be traumatized, and we should be pushing our elected officials these common-sense gun regulations," said Krevat.
She supports stronger background checks and storage laws, as well as a national red flag law; Steele also encouraged the implementation of a red flag law, which allows a court to temporarily remove and bar the purchase of firearms from a person found to be a danger to themselves or others. Currently, 19 states have such laws with varying requirements; legislative efforts in North Carolina have not advanced.
Steele would like to see greater access to mental health resources and called for the implementation of a text alert system during active shootings, which he believes could have saved lives during the Hedingham shooting. He's voiced his belief to Raleigh City Council and has plans to meet privately with one member next week to further explore it.
"The technology is there. We just need the will and the money," said Steele.
"I'm talking to everybody out there now. Just because it hasn't happened in your neighborhood, doesn't mean it won't. That's why. Because I know what it feels like to lose the love of my life," he said. "And I don't think you should, too."