The Guilford County Board of Commissioners had planned to spend the majority of the Thursday, June 2 meeting talking about the upcoming 2022-2023 county budget.

However, due to the recent mass shooting in Uvalde, Texas that left 19 students and two teachers dead, the commissioners devoted much of their meeting to address gun violence.  Several commissioners spoke on the issue before the board adopted a resolution declaring gun violence in the county a public health crisis.

The board also took action to get all relevant community leaders working together.

Before the reading of the resolution by Commissioner Carly Cooke, Vice-chair of the Guilford County Board of Commissioners Carlvena Foster offered some lengthy impassioned remarks about the need to protect residents against gun violence – especially gun violence in schools.

Foster said the effort to prevent gun violence in Guilford County needs to be a top priority and everyone must work together.

“The work begins anew today,” Foster said.  “Take a stand.”

Cooke, who also spoke at length, was on the verge of tears when she recounted seeing the faces of young school children who had to go through frightening school shooter drills.

Leaders from Guilford County Schools, Emergency Services, law enforcement agencies, the Guilford County Family Justice Center and other key players stood in front of the board to show their solidarity in addressing the problem.

The resolution stated that gun violence is “a significant problem in the United States that affects people in all stages of life, from infants to the elderly,” and that the effects of gun violence “extend far beyond these casualties, as it shapes and reshapes the lives of those who experience the loss of a friend or loved one to gun violence or experience constant fear in their daily lives of when another unexpected firearm attack might occur.”

The resolution also included statistics. It stated that, annually, about 45,000 people in the country are killed as a result of gun-related homicides and suicides – and that nearly 85,000 people are injured as a result of accidents involving firearms each year.

It also notes that “firearms passed motor vehicles as one of the leading causes of death in children in 2020.”

Guilford County averages 217 gun-related deaths every year, and, in 2019, of  1,526 violent deaths in the county, 79 percent were deemed to be due to guns.

The board’s resolution declared that gun violence is a public health crisis and that the board is committed “to prioritizing our existing networks and relationships with our local municipalities, community partners, and community members to establish an evidence-based public health response to address the underlying social, economic, and systemic factors that promote gun violence.”

In the future, commissioners will get regular progress reports regarding the new efforts to combat gun violence.