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Incidents in Raleigh reignite conversation surrounding gun violence
Last Thursday, civil rights attorney Justin Bamberg stood outside the home of Simone Thomas and addressed the media while Thomas and several loved ones grieved the loss of her son, Kouren, who was gunned down while leaving a party in Raleigh during the early morning hours of Sunday, August 7th.
The gunman, Chad Copley, a 39-year-old resident of the neighborhood where the party was held that night, reportedly thought he was acting in self-defense. His first 911 call reveals that he claimed partygoers were vandals and then “hoodlums” who were “racing” up and down neighborhood streets. Later, he claimed there were armed men. All claims have yet to be substantiated.
Over a chorus of tears from Kouren Thomas’ loved ones, Bamberg labels Copley as “Mr. George Zimmerman 2.0” which many believe is a rightful assumption to make. This case bears many similarities to the shooting death of Trayvon Martin at the hands of George Zimmerman in 2012. Both Copley and Zimmerman have killed young black men. Both claimed to be acting in self-defense. Both claimed that their use of deadly force was part of neighborhood watch efforts.
In her address to the media, Simone Thomas explained that her son was not, in fact, a “hoodlum” or a dangerous person at all. "There was nothing 'hood' about him," she said. She went on to detail how much Kouren helped her, his brother, his girlfriend, and his community in times of need.
Simone Thomas now joins the countless number of black parents who are faced with the task of burying their children due to gun violence. "I'm just tired. Everybody should be tired everyday," she said. "I've still got two sons I've got to worry about everyday, going to work, coming home from work. When is it going to end?"
Chad Copley has been indicted by a Wake County Grand Jury and will stand trial on Monday, August 29th.
Not even a week after the shooting of Kouren Thomas, another came. Rahim Cummings, a husband and father of two, was shot dead during the afternoon of Friday, August 12th. The shooting occurred at a Raleigh shopping center in broad daylight.
Witnesses reported that there had been a chase followed by a physical altercation that eventually turned deadly.
Canei Cummings, the victim’s wife, had an emotional outburst in court directed toward one of the shooters. "You killed him. You killed my husband. You killed my husband," said the anguished widow. "Why would you do that? Why would you do that? Who did it! Please tell them who did it!"
These recent developments in Raleigh portray a wider problem that is wreaking havoc on communities across the nation. Gun violence has taken 9,158 American lives in 2016 alone. While the problem continues to grow, gun laws continue to remain lax.
The issue of gun control has taken center stage in the national spotlight. During the Democratic primaries this year, Hillary Clinton and Bernie Sanders fought viciously over the issue. Some might even say that Clinton’s success in the primaries was due, in large part, to the fact that she sported an F rating from the NRA while Sanders received a D minus.
Like Clinton, proponents of gun control claim that they do not want to take away anyone’s guns nor the Second Amendment. Instead, they want to make it harder for guns to fall in the hands of the wrong people.
Opponents of gun control argue that restricting gun access is unconstitutional according to the Second Amendment. Some opponents also believe that restricting gun access makes public spaces more dangerous because people are less likely to be able to defend themselves in case of a life-threatening situation. Regardless, many public spaces have already banned firearms of any kind.
As Election Day approaches, the issue of gun control in a swing state like North Carolina can mobilize enough voters to make an impact on elections of all types--local, state, and national.