Questions Not Asked (Updated)

I received a press release late this morning regarding a recent shooting in Durham, North Carolina. It was from the North Carolina chapters of Everytown, Moms Demand, and Students Demand. The tenor of this missive was that “gun violence” (sic) is killing the youth of North Carolina.

Lest I be accused of selective editing, here it is in its entirety:

DURHAM, N.C. —  The North Carolina chapters of Moms Demand Action and Students Demand Action, both part of Everytown for Gun Safety’s grassroots networks, released the following statement after a shooting in Durham left two people dead and four others injured. According to local reporting, the six victims were driving in an SUV when they received fire at around 3 a.m. Monday morning. Most of those shot were under the age of 18, with some of the youngest being just middle school students, WRAL reports.

“The shooting in Durham is another tragic example of the devastating impact gun violence has had on North Carolina’s youth,” said Sylvia Burns, a volunteer with the North Carolina chapter of Moms Demand Action. “We can’t sit idly while young lives continue to be cut short by gun violence. Enough is enough.”

The shooting comes at the end of Durham’s deadliest year — by September 30, 2021, Durham police had investigated 43 homicides, surpassing 2016’s previous record of 42, according to INDY Week.

In an average year, 1,388 people die and 3,407 are wounded by guns in North Carolina. Guns are the second-leading cause of death among the state’s youth population, with an average of 104 children and teens being killed by guns every year. 60% of these deaths are homicides. More information on North Carolina gun violence can be found here.

There are a number of questions that this press release ignores while saying “enough is enough.”

Why were these “youths” out driving around at 3am on what is a school night?

Did the parents of those that were identified as “middle school students” know their children were out at this time of the morning? According to a more recent report, the middle schools students included a 13 year old boy, a 13 year old girl, and a 12 year old girl.

Given police say this shooting was not random, were any of these “youths” members of a gang?

Did the victims know their attackers?

Was this shooting gang related? Durham officials said earlier in the year that the city has a gang problem.

Were any firearms found in the SUV of the “victims”?

With one of those killed being 19 years of age, does Everytown consider this victim a “youth” or an adult?

The Durham Police Department reports that the SUV, a Hyundai Santa Fe, was reported stolen sometime on Sunday. Were these “youths” involved in the theft of the car and did the theft play any role in the shooting?

I do agree that it is a tragedy to see any young person’s life end prematurely. However, there are so many factors at play here that to heap all the blame on firearms is both misleading and simplistic.

UPDATE: More details emerge on this incident.

In addition to there being a seventh passenger in the stolen car, a firearm was found in it by police.

From WRAL Raleigh:

A police report indicates a .308 Winchester 88 was recovered from the Hyundai Santa Fe, which crashed into a utility pole near the intersection of Mathison and Eugene streets after the shooting.

Police said the SUV had been reported stolen on Sunday from a location in Durham that they didn’t disclose. There was no information as to whether the rifle was stolen along with the vehicle. Police haven’t said whether any of the teens have been linked to the vehicle theft.

A Winchester 88 is a magazine-fed lever action rifle. I will say it is not what one would expect to find at the scene of the crime.

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