RALEIGH, NC (WTVD) — As Thanksgiving approaches, a house that’s normally filled with joy will be a lot quieter this year.
“We hosted. We had a lot of fun with it. Mary went to culinary school. She loved cooking,” Robert Steele recalled, referring to his late fiancée Mary Marshall, one of five people shot during last month’s mass shooting Parish of Hedingham.
While he was inundated with offers and invitations to meet on Thursday, Steele said it was still too difficult.
“I will stay at home. And be thankful for what I have and the time I’ve had,” Steele said.
In the weeks following her death, Steele has turned his grief into motivation, using a platform he never wanted to address escalating gun violence.
“I ask myself every day, ‘What would Mary want me to do when I get up in the morning?’ “She wouldn’t want me to just sit and roll. She would want me to honor her memory, the memory of the others who were killed in Hedingham, the others who were killed in other shootings,” Steele said.
According to The Gun Violence Archive, there were 608 mass shootings in the United States this year, more than double the number eight years ago.
“How many more people have to be killed before we say enough is enough? Well, apparently we haven’t reached that number yet. I don’t think we ever will. Because if it were us, we would have already done it. It would have been the first time children were killed in schools,” Steele said.
Last week, the North Carolina Department of Health and Human Services released a report calling gun violence a “public health issue” and a “justice issue” and highlighting increasing incidents among children.
“It’s happening across the country and it’s happening every day and it’s frustrating because we’re working so hard to educate the public about gun violence, we’ve worked so hard to advocate for common sense gun laws and we’re not being heard too,” said Madhavi Krevat, North Carolina campaign manager for Moms Demand Action for Gun Sense in America.
Krevat began her legal work after the 2018 Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School shooting in Parkland, Fla., and shared that her son’s boyfriend was injured in the 2019 shooting at the University of North Carolina in Charlotte.
“If we’re deaf, we shouldn’t be. We should all be traumatized, and we should force these sensible gun laws on our elected officials,” Krevat said.
It supports stricter background checks and retention laws, as well as a national red flag law; Steele also encouraged the implementation of a red flag law that would allow a court to temporarily revoke and ban a person found to be a danger to themselves or others from purchasing firearms. Currently, 19 states have such laws with varying requirements; Legislative efforts in North Carolina have not progressed.
Steele wants better access to mental health resources and calls for the implementation of a text alert system during active shootings, which he believes could have saved lives during the Hedingham shooting. He has expressed his belief to Raleigh City Council and plans to meet privately with a member next week to explore further.
“The technology is there. We just need the will and the money,” Steele said.
In light of recent mass shootings, Steele shares why he’s continuing to speak out.
“I’m talking to everyone out there now. Just because it hasn’t happened in your neighborhood doesn’t mean it won’t happen. That’s why. Because I know how it feels to lose the love of my life,” he said. “And I don’t think you should either.”
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