Gun Violence in Durham and Why It Matters BY JONATHAN ELLER
Jonathan Lamont Johnson was rushed to the hospital on Sunday, November 25th as his family, filled with dread, sat in the back seat of the ambulance. After a man shot both Johnson and his friend while they were in their car, health officials rushed them to the hospital where, unfortunately, it was too late for Johnson. Sadly, this is far from the only shooting in Durham recently. From October 28th to October 30th there was a spree of six gang-related shootings around downtown and northern Durham. On November 25th there were three separate shootings, including Johnson, all in downtown Durham. These recent shootings strike fear into the hearts of everyone around Durham and are much cause for concern about the future of Durham as a crime-filled city.
“It is alarming. I do find it interesting that inner city shootings have been a thing in Durham since I moved here in 1997, but they seem to be a bigger deal now that gentrification has become more normalized in the downtown area. Not sure why people weren't as concerned before those homes were going for $500k.” Jacson Lowe, American History teacher at Durham School of the Arts, expressed.
Durham citizens around the city are left wondering why this is happening out of nowhere for seemingly no reason, but the truth is this is an ongoing problem throughout the country and even Durham has had a high rate of crime for a long time.
“Illegal guns, gangs, and various criminal behavior are rooted in a system that has been in place to oppress a sector of people and then punish them to remove them from society. [A way to help fix this would be more] social programs and education to the general public about the systemic policies that have led people in high-crime areas to resort to violence in the first place.” Lowe said.
Across America, people have different ideas for how they think America should go about solving it’s gun violence problem. The majority of people will probably say that stricter gun control policies are needed to make it harder for people to get guns, but Lowe and others alike believe there needs to be more education on the topic so that people don’t resort to gun violence as a solution to their problems.
“I don't think [gun control] policies will decrease the amount of shootings, unfortunately. I don't think the answer lies in gun control policies, though that will help. I think the answer to out of control gun crime lies in youth programs that give teenagers purpose and teach them skills to build their self-esteem.” Rory O’Bryan, speech therapist at Duke Regional Hospital, stated.
No matter the reason and no matter the solution, one thing is known. People, across the nation, are scared. Gun violence is getting worse, especially in Durham. Homicides are up 33% from September of last year and aggravated assault charges are up 19%. Something needs to change and it needs to change soon.
“I am far removed from what is actually happening that causes a person to choose shooting someone as an answer. But I know that we imitate conflict resolution that is modeled around us. The cycle needs to stop and young people need to somehow have positive role models around them.” O’Bryan added.
Conversing on the Matters of Change: a debate on Gun Laws BY STEPHANY GUZMAN