'No more thoughts and prayers:' Locals worried about gun violence want action

RALEIGH (WTVD) -- Dozens of concerned people wearing orange gathered Saturday inside Raleigh's John Chavis Memorial Park.

Their choice of color was intentional, as it was part of a national call for action that could reduce gun violence in America.

Organized locally by North Carolina's chapter of Moms Demand Action For Gun Sense In America, voices were heard ranging from concerned students, adult survivors and law enforcement.

"Just to be around people that have also experienced it, and for those who haven't to volunteer and get involved with what we're trying to change" made a difference for Tony Cope.

He remembered a frightening day with his family nine years ago.

"We were all in a Target in Apex when a guy came in and killed a woman working at the register, and eventually killed himself," said Cope.

While unhurt physically that day, they and others worry, especially as they gather on the morning after more gun violence in Raleigh.

Police Chief Cassandra Deck Brown said, "Here in Raleigh we had three people shot. One of them died from their injuries. Last week, we had over 17 incidents that involved a firearm. Not all shootings, but involved a firearm."

RELATED: Durham police chief, local leaders take stand against gun violence on National Gun Violence Awareness Day

Rising high school senior Leah Krevat recounted the worry she felt for her brother, who was on the UNC Charlotte campus when a gunman opened fire there last month.

While she and her brother are okay, she said they're both part of "a generation of lockdown drills and thinking, 'Oh my gosh, am I going to make it out of my classroom?' 'Am I going to die? Am I going to be texting my parents, saying goodbye, just in case?'"

Emily Bernson grew up in Newtown, Connecticut, and graduated with the Sandy Hook shooter. Now in Raleigh, she also voiced concerns.

"What if one of my children dies in a school shooting? It's just baffling to think that this is where we are, and this is what we're having to do to save our children, to save our family and our friends."

Marine veteran Scott Cooper, a Democrat running for Congress, wants laws that require all gun owners to secure their weapons.

"I lost the sister of one of my best friends when he was 12 years old because there was an unkept gun in the house," Cooper said to the group. "What you're doing is bringing attention, shining a light on it, and gun owners know they need to keep those guns safe."

He's not the only military veteran or gun owner at the park advocating for gun safety. The group Veterans Crisis Line made free locks for guns available.

"If it means that much to you to exercise your right to own," said Wake Sheriff Gerald Baker, "you should be willing to go through a little bit more."

Baker's also in favor of tighter laws regulating gun ownership.

When he asked, "What can your sheriff's office do?" A woman sitting nearby responded, "No more thoughts and prayers!"

Those who gathered inside the park on an overcast Saturday want more people, including responsible gun owners, involved in the search for solutions.
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