CORRECTION: In a previous version of this article, Emily Feek's name was spelled incorrectly. Elon News Network regrets this error.
Roughly 300 people met on the Halifax Mall in Raleigh beside the North Carolina Legislative Complex to protest gun violence and promote gun control legislation. The “People > Guns” rally was organized by the Young Democrats of North Carolina.
The rally comes weeks after University of North Carolina, Chapel Hill professor Zijie Yan was shot and killed inside Caudill Labs on UNC’s campus Aug. 28. The subsequent campus lockdown on Sept. 13 took place after reports of an armed and dangerous individual on campus.
UNC, Chapel Hill student Emily Feek was not on campus Aug. 28, but many of her peers were. Feek said she no longer feels safe on campus.
“I think you can learn from all of these incidents. Unfortunately, if it can happen at one of these schools, it can happen at any of them,” Feek said. “I hope that other North Carolina universities don't have to go into lockdown and don't have to respond to gun violence on campus.”
The keynote speaker of the rally was Tennessee state Rep. Justin Jones. Jones was expelled and then reinstated back into the Tennessee legislature in March following a gun control protest in the Tennessee statehouse.
“I've heard that the Republican lawmakers can't pass a budget because they're fighting over legalizing casinos,” Jones said. “But we're here to talk about what's really happening. They're gambling with the lives of our children.”
During the rally, speakers called out the Republican supermajority in the General Assembly, which has not passed gun control legislation during the current session and has not yet passed the state fiscal budget.
The current fiscal year began in June, but the budget has been delayed due to disagreements between the House and Senate in Raleigh over casino legislation.
One of the other speakers during the event was North Carolina Democratic Chairwoman Anderson Clayton, who encouraged college students and young voters to turn out in future elections to promote change and gun reform.
“We're here to tell them that young people will not be silenced,” Clayton said. “I am traveling all over, to every county that I possibly can … just to make sure that we're getting out there to everybody and spreading this message.”