RALEIGH, N.C. – Thursday marks one month since six people were killed in the mass shooting at a Nashville, Tennessee school.
According to Gun Violence Archive, there have been 173 mass shootings across the country this year. One future teacher in the Triangle is calling on the Wake County Board of Education and other elected officials to take action before more tragedies happen.
Kurstin Howe is a sophomore at Meredith College with plans to become a teacher. She grew up in the Wake County school system and has quite a few educators in her family. She recently spoke during a public comment section at a Wake County Board of Education meeting, sharing her concerns while also asking education officials and lawmakers to advocate for change.
“As a future teacher and in college, I think it's so important to be advocating even before I'm in the classroom,” Kurstin Howe, a sophomore at Meredith College, said.
Being comfortable standing at the front of a classroom comes with the territory of being a teacher, but Howe believes teachers are now taking on a responsibility they never imagined.
“Teachers didn't sign up for this. Teachers did not sign up to be a human shield for children,” Howe said.
Two weeks after the Nashville school shooting, Howe found herself at the front of a Wake County Board of Education meeting.
“Teachers are dying. Children are dying. Administration, even custodians are dying,” Howe said during her public comment speech.
“I just kind of had this moment where I've realized that something needed to be done, and I was tired of sitting around and waiting for other people to do it for me,” Howe said.
Howe thanked the board for asking for more school safety funding and advocating for gun safety storage, but she says that’s not enough.
“Increase the presence of student resource officers, increase these weapon detection programs, or bulletproof... But that’s just surface level that’s not addressing the root of the issue and the root of the issue is guns,” Howe said.
Howe believes many lawmakers are prioritizing conversations around critical race theory and book bans instead of finding ways to prevent school shootings. However, she believes those conversations are shifting, and she wants to be part of that movement.
“I think the determining factor is that people who have survived through these shootings throughout the past like 10 years, since Sandy Hook, we have lived it. We have gone through it. And now that we’re older and able to advocate. We are going to create change to prevent other students from growing up in the environment that we had to grow up in,” Howe said.
Howe also expressed concern about changes in North Carolina’s gun legislation.
The General Assembly recently voted to override North Carolina Gov. Roy Cooper’s veto, which means it’s now not required that someone gets a permit from their county sheriff before buying a handgun in the state.
Also, concealed weapons can be carried on private school property when there are religious services being held and no students are on campus.