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According to new data from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, more people died from guns in North Carolina in 2016 than in any year in at least the last three decades [Charlotte Obs. via N&O]. That year, more than 1,400 people died from guns, an increase of 120 over 2015.

  • “Experts are not yet sure why the numbers are rising. But a jump in firearm-related homicides appears to have driven the increase. Homicides involving guns climbed to 558 in 2016—a 27 percent increase over the previous year.”
  • “Gun deaths in North Carolina have risen significantly faster than the state’s population. For every 100,000 people, about 14 died from firearms in 2016. That was the highest rate since 1997. … The pace of gun deaths here continues to exceed the national rate, about 12 gun deaths for every 100,000 people in 2016.”
  • “Gun control advocates—including Becky Ceartas, executive director of North Carolinians Against Gun Violence—blame the state’s laws. In its scorecard of state gun laws, the Giffords Law Center to Prevent Gun Violence gives North Carolina a D-.”
  • “As more people carry guns, ‘there inevitably will be a rise in the number of people who use that gun in some sort of altercation,’ said Mike Turner, chair of UNC Charlotte’s criminology department. From 2015 to 2016, the number of concealed carry permits issued in North Carolina climbed from about 68,000 to about 107,000, according to the State Bureau of Investigation. Last year, about 74,000 permits were issued.”

WHAT IT MEANS: According to former Charlotte-Mecklenburg police chief Darrel Stephens, cops across the state attribute this rise to social media, with young people becoming inflamed by taunts on Twitter and Facebook and lashing out. Perhaps that’s true. But the bigger, far more consequential, and blindingly obvious issue to me is that it is simply too easy for people with homicidal intentions to access guns in North Carolina. Of course, don’t bet on the General Assembly to do anything about that.