gun violence

Adhiti Bandlamudi / WUNC

In most American cities, gun homicides are on the decline. But Durham, North Carolina, saw its homicide rate rise in 2019. While the community copes with feelings of chronic violence, one outreach worker is dedicating his time to ending the cycle.

Overall crime in the United States has been declining since the early 1990s. But the same cannot be said for gun violence, which has seen a slight uptick in recent years.

Once a week, in the basement auditorium of the MedStar National Rehabilitation Hospital in Washington, D.C., a group of men gather to discuss the various struggles and triumphs of life in a wheelchair.

The program, called the Urban Re-Entry Group, is a gathering place for young black men who have been paralyzed by gun violence. Here, conversations flow freely about guns and violence, sex and politics, and life and death among the half dozen or so regular attendees.

After a mass shooting, people and resources pour into the community to help victims and survivors cope. As these incidents continue to unfold, the grim infrastructure that springs up around them is growing larger and more sophisticated.

A memorial for 19-year-old De'Von Bailey on the block where he died in Colorado Springs. Bailey was shot and killed by police in August.
Leigh Paterson / KUNC

Dee Smith didn't know De'Von Bailey. But he knows Bailey's family, and says he was angry when he heard that the 19-year-old had been killed by Colorado Springs police this summer.

Now, standing by the memorial and the stained asphalt on the quiet corner where it happened, Smith is speechless.

"(Because) then you just imagine that it could be me, it could be my nephews, somebody else, friends that I know that's from the neighborhood," Smith said. "Just the fact that it's from here. I was born and raised out here. It has a little different meaning for me."

The chief executives of many prominent U.S. companies sent a letter to U.S. senators on Thursday urging them to pass new federal gun control laws.

“Gun violence in America is not inevitable; it’s preventable,” the letter from 145 CEOs reads. “There are steps Congress can, and must, take to prevent and reduce gun violence.”

Active shootings tend to capture news headlines and generate think pieces much more than other forms of gun violence. Even when shooting deaths do make local news, thoughtful reflection about violence and culture isn’t a typical part of the coverage.

On an unseasonably warm July day, Lionel Irving gets up from the sofa on his front porch to hug his 16-year-old niece Queenie who is just getting home from a summer program called Self Enhancement, Inc.

“She just came from a college tour,” he says. “That’s our star.”

Queenie visited Tulane University in New Orleans. Lionel sees education as the most important thing for helping young people improve their lives and he gets visibly excited when he talks about Queenie’s success.

Antonio Basco lost his only close relative in the mass shooting in El Paso, Texas. But he did not mourn her alone.

Basco’s wife of 22 years, Margie Reckard, was killed at the Walmart. He told the funeral home planning the service for his spouse that he wanted to invite members of the public to attend her visitation.

Hundreds turned out to the visitation Friday night to support Basco, grieve after tragedy and remember a woman many did not know.

Could it happen here? It's a question a lot of people ask in the wake of a traumatic event.

Even if you're not directly connected to the events in El Paso, Gilroy or Dayton, chances are you've felt the weight of them.

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