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CHARLOTTE, NC (WBTV) -
Some who've been working to get a handle on gun violence say they're happy to see the rest of country talking about a subject that has been plaguing urban communities.
Pastor John P. Kee of New Life Fellowship in Charlotte has been on the front lines trying to get guns off the street. He runs an annual Gifts for Guns Exchange - where people can turn in guns for gift cards. At the end of the program all guns are handed over to CMPD.
"We believe that with more guns we take off the street, we actually shut down some of the crime in areas", says Pastor Kee.
The shooting at the elementary school in Newtown, CT has sparked intense conversations about the availability of guns. It's a discussion inner cities communities have been having for a long time.
Pastor Kee says "when I hear all the excitement now and the conversation and the changing of laws and legislation - instead of being bitter - maybe it took that incident. Maybe it took those 20 angels for us to realize and recognize that we do have a problem".
Why did the shooting in Newtown grip the county?
"Our babies - I'm still not over it", says Pastor Kee. His church, which runs a school, is in the Double Oaks community of Charlotte. Pastor Kee says "Newtown affected me because Newtown became Double Oaks. It could have been us".
"Whenever you start doing things to babies, you're going to get the attention of everybody. And this has crossed color lines, everything. This has nothing to do with- this just has to do with gun violence period", says Judy Williams of Mothers of Murdered Offsprings.
Williams says her organization has been trying to stem violence by holding candle light services and volunteers giving speeches. She says they want people "to understand that violence begets violence. When you get angry with somebody, you've got to find another way to deal with it short of taking a life".
Williams says "guns hurt people but only in the hands of people who want to hurt people". She's happy people are talking.
Williams believes the national conversation - regardless of when or where it started - will help everybody, adding "what we're doing now is looking at where we may have been coming up short, where our weak areas are. We know where we've got to strengthen".