January 10, 2023 11:00am

Durham members worry gun crime will increase in 2023

Here’s how you think the city should combat gun violence.

Photo of Leigh Tauss
Durham, NC Correspondent

The Bull City saw a slight dip in shootings in 2022. But it didn’t feel like much cause for celebration. Those shootings proved deadlier, taking the same number of lives as the previous year, 44. Overall, 247 people were shot and police investigated a total of 770 shootings throughout Durham.

Unfortunately, 2023 has already been up to a rough start. Durham rang in the new year with a drive-by shooting that left five people injured.

City leaders, including mayor Elaine O’Neal and Satana Deberry, have sworn to make addressing gun violence a top priority, but according to our most recent poll, it may not be enough.

“It's becoming depressing to be hopeful, but we have no choice but to continue to be hopeful,” Durham city council member Leonardo Williams told WRAL.

More than half of our members — 55 percent — disagree that the city made progress in addressing gun violence in 2022. Of that, 22 percent said they strongly disagreed, and 33 percent disagreed only somewhat.

Another 22 percent of members had neutral feelings, but just 22 percent felt any progress had been made at all — 11 percent strongly and another 11 percent somewhat.

And members don't have much confidence about 2023, either.

Nobody felt as though Durham would likely see a significant decrease in gun violence this year, but more than half of members think the city will see an increase in some form — 41 percent predict somewhat of an increase and 11 percent fear a significant increase. About a quarter of voting member said they think gun violence will continue to moderately decline, and another 22 percent thinks the statistics will stay about level.

The causes driving Durham's ongoing gun violence are intersectional and historically complex. But our members felt poverty and inequality are the biggest factor — 37 percent — seconded by widespread access to guns — 22 percent.

Another 22 percent of members blamed gang activity, and 19 percent believe inadequate law enforcement funding is a key factor. No one felt a lack of mental health care and support networks was driving the violence.

Heading into 2023, 41 percent of members surveyed feel Durham leaders need to commit more funding to community support groups that target violence and gang prevention. Another 30 percent want to see more funding for organizations focusing on welfare, education and affordable housing to combat poverty and 19 percent think more law enforcement funding should be the priority.

Just one member felt as though holding more public forums was the answer.

Perhaps talk is cheap.

Interestingly, no members responded "don't know/don't care."

Everyone loves resolutions. Not.

A third of you hope to have none at all this year! Honestly, same.

But mostly the rest of you want to be healthier this year, good for you.

About Power Poll: Power Poll asks questions of the most powerful, influential people in U.S. cities. It is not a scientific survey. But because the people responding to the surveys comprise the leadership structure of their cities, the results afford a fascinating glimpse into the thoughts, opinions, and beliefs of those in a position to make change. Power Poll is distinctly nonpartisan.

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