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NC lawmakers trying to crack down on growing gang presence

READ MORE: NC lawmakers trying to crack down on growing gang presence
State lawmakers want to crack down on North Carolina's growing gang presence. New laws are now making their way through the state legislature. Officials estimate there are 15,000 gang members in North Carolina. The Tarheel State is one of few that do not have laws specifically addressing gang activity. Now lawmakers are hoping to change that. Asheville police were called to the scene of a 12-year-old boy who had been shot in the head. Six people were shot in a Chapel Hill nightclub. And two Whiteville high school teenagers were arrested for the shooting death of Darnell Frink outside a Columbus County gas station. -- Three gang-related incidents within days of each other across North Carolina. Now, anti-gang legislation aims to create additional offenses, penalties, and procedures for tackling North Carolina's street gang problem. Wilmington Mayor Bill Saffo joined mayors and law enforcement officials from around the state in Raleigh Wednesday to show support for the legislation. "We had a killing here last year of a young man that was trying to disengage himself from the gang and was killed because of that," said Saffo. The street gang prevention act would increase penalties for gang members charged with crimes. Crimes that are now only misdemeanors would become felonies. The act would also make recruiting youths into gangs a crime itself. What will the legislation accomplish? "Particularly, three things -- Identifying what a gang is, going after people who recruit young people into gangs, and going after those people who intimidate people that want to try to get out of gangs," said Saffo. The bill would also give counties money for after-school and gang-prevention programs. The bill is now awaiting approval in the house.

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