NORTH CAROLINA -- More people died from guns in 2016 in North Carolina than the previous 35 years. The year 2016 saw 1,400 people die from guns, according to data from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

With 558 total deaths, there was also a 27% increase over the previous year with guns involving homicides. From 2015 to 2016, the amount of concealed carry permits also increased from 68,000 to 107,000.

The statistics and background information:

·         1,400 people died from guns in 2016: 62.1% suicides, 34.6% homicides, 3.3% “other”

·         African-Americans in NC ages 20-29 die from firearm assaults which is seven times the rate of other North Carolinians.

·         2017 was the deadliest year in Charlotte for gun violence.  

·         North Carolina: gun ownership 28% (of 2.8 million people) 

·         NC has no restrictions on assault weapons, magazine capacity, or ammo caliber.

·         The state is considered “pro-gun owner rights” and the NRA has given A+ ratings to NC’s two senators, Richard Burr and Thom Tillis. The group spent $11.4M on their campaigns.

·         NC is an open carry state without a permit and there is no waiting period to buy guns.


Topics on gun violence and ownership:

Robeson County

In 2016, more people died from guns than the previous 35 years. One county in North Carolina is the most violent in the country for gun violence. Robeson County is more dangerous than 97% of the United States. The homicide rate of the rural county is three times the state average. Right now, District Attorney Johnson Britt is hoping to move homicide cases faster through the system through what’s called the “murder docket.”

Mothers of Murdered Offspring

Judy Williams’ goddaughter, Shawn Hawk, was killed by Charlotte’s only serial killer in 1993. After this, she founded Mothers of Murdered Offspring (MOM-O). Since its inception, Williams has held a candlelight vigil for every Charlotte-area homicide victim. MOM-O has turned into a quiet, private support group to a vocal and public show of love and compassion for lost loved ones. Despite battling cancer, for more than 25 years Williams has organized these vigils for 700 victims and counting – and doesn’t plan on stopping. Recently, she organized after a popular Harding University High School football player, Jamie Bright, was shot and killed in his home in west Charlotte.

Guns and Mental Illness

Known as The Peach Stand Murder, in 2018, a man who had a history of mental illness shot and killed a 19-year-old cashier, Karson Whitesell, at a popular York County, S.C. gas station after saying she looked at him the wrong way. The shooter, Christopher Mendez, lied on his gun application by simply checking “no” on the question that asked if he had a history of mental illness. Smith’s public defender said that he was put on medication after he was committed to a mental institution for a week in 2017. But he stopped taking the medication and said it made him feel worse. He also did not have insurance.

Gun manufacturing and North Carolina

North Carolina is home to more than 300 gun manufacturers, including Remington (the oldest American gun maker) and Ruger (top-selling gun brand in the world). They have been credited with “saving” small, former textile towns near the Virginia border and with jobs and an economy boost. Mayodan and Madison in Rockingham County are known as “Gun Town USA.”


For more on this topic, tune in to "North Carolina: Under The Gun" on Wednesday, April 3 at 8 p.m. on Spectrum News, followed by a live town hall at 8:30 p.m. You can watch live on television, online at and the Spectrum News app