RALEIGH, N.C. (WNCN) — Two guns at two schools were found in one day in Central North Carolina. An unloaded 9-millimeter was found in a 6 year old boy’s backpack in Rocky Mount, according to Rocky Mount Police.
In the second case, a student at Wendell Middle School, brought a gun to school to show his friends, according to the school’s principal.
Under state law, students are suspended for 365 days for bringing a gun to school, but what type of punishment, if any do parents face? North Carolina has a safe storage law that makes it a misdemeanor for someone to store a gun in a way a minor can access it and then use it in several scenarios, including committing a crime or bringing it to school. The full law can be found here.
“A few times a year, or a few times a month, is generally how much we charge this,” said Wake County District Attorney Lorrin Freeman.
The mother of the Wendell Middle School student who brought the gun to school Tuesday was charged under that law. CBS 17 asked Freeman if the student will face charges as well, she said she cannot comment on juvenile cases.
Freeman said she can’t pinpoint the circumstances behind every safe storage charge, but said in general bringing a gun to school is the most common reason.
“Unfortunately, we’ve seen a real increase in firearms brought to schools over the school year, and so obviously it’s something that creates a lot of concern and alarm,” Freeman said.
Freeman said part of the investigation is answering how a child got their hands on a gun.
“In those instances where we can prove that the firearm was obtained by the child because a parent or adult left it unsecured then, you know, we’re gonna seek charges,” Freeman said.
According to the North Carolina Department of Public Instruction, five guns were reported at Wake County schools in the 2018-19 school year. That is the most recent year available that was not interrupted by COVID-19.
CBS 17 has already reported on at least five instances of guns being found at Wake County schools so far this year.
The Wake County School district is reminding parents to safely secure firearms, writing in a statement:
We ask parents to be vigilant and monitor the activities and actions of their children. We ask parents to secure all firearms in their home. Always keep guns locked in a gun safe that cannot be easily broken into or taken away.
The best means to keep schools safe is to maintain healthy and open relationships between adults and children at all times. Please remind students they can always feel comfortable reporting matters that cause them concern to a teacher or administrator. They can also report them to our anonymous tip line, (919) 856-1911.
Freeman said people convicted under the safe storage law could spend up to 120 days behind bars but will most likely receive probation depending on their record.