NC officials, activists react to Biden's plan to address rising gun violence

President Biden's administration shared steps to curb increasing gun violence Wednesday, part of a wide-ranging initiative.

Homicides in the first quarter of 2021 are up 24% versus last year in the U.S. and 49% over the same time period in 2019.

"In 2020, in North Carolina and nationally, it was the most violent year in the 21st century. Simply unacceptable," said Becky Ceartas, the Executive Director of North Carolinians Against Violence Action Fund.

The Triangle mother said she's like to see more community violence intervention teams like Bull City United.

"These are evidenced-based programs that have been proven to save lives. In fact they've been proven to prevent violence up to 60% in some communities. And these are programs that we do have some in North Carolina, but they need to expand," said Ceartas.

She also applauded efforts to keep young people occupied through programs and jobs.

"They're focusing on youth employment opportunities and summer programs for young adults and youth. So this is very important because youth employment opportunities have been proven to reduce violence between 35% and 45%, giving people the opportunities that they need and that they want to be gainfully employed," Ceartas said.

Updated guidance from the Department of Treasury allows state and local governments to allow American Rescue Plan Funding to address this issue, taking steps from hiring more law enforcement officials and buying new technology and equipment, to funding school support staff and education programs. Still, it is not guaranteed that the money will be used in that way.

"The American Rescue Plan funds have already been awarded by the federal government and I suspect that our state legislature and others across the country already have plans for those funds. So it sounds like this proposal does not include any additional funding for law enforcement," explained Eddie Caldwell, the Executive Vice President and General Counsel for the North Carolina Sheriffs' Association.

Caldwell did explain the importance of cooperation across local, state, and federal partners, but added he'd like to see more done to prevent recidivism.

"It's laudable that the proposal includes efforts to stop the revolving doors for some defendants. What's missing from the proposal is increased penalties and accountability for those individuals who choose not to re-enter society in a lawful matter. Certainly law enforcement fully supports efforts to help folks turn their lives around, help them lead a productive life, and lead a crime-free life," said Caldwell.
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