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As the 2021 Legislative Session Begins Today in South Carolina, Here’s What to Know About Gun Violence

January 12, 2021

As the South Carolina legislature returns to Columbia for the start of the 2021 legislative session, lawmakers will again have the opportunity to pass common-sense gun safety bills. Gun violence prevention is more important than ever in the new year as the pandemic continues to exacerbate gun violence and after a year of increased gun sales, continued police violence, increased risk of suicide and domestic violence, and an increase in city gun violence. 

After last week, when violent extremists – some of whom were reportedly armed – stormed and damaged the United States Capitol Building in an act of violent insurrection, the need to reject radical policies which would likely embolden extremists and vigilantes has never been more evident. South Carolina state law enforcement are reportedly preparing for potential armed rallies in the state capital through the presidential inauguration.

This year, lawmakers should protect South Carolinians by rejecting dangerous legislation that would weaken our gun laws and embolden extremists, including bills that would allow the open carry and permitless carry of firearms. 

What to know about open carry in South Carolina:

  • Open carry, which allows for carrying firearms visibly in public, is a dangerous policy exploited by white supremacists and extremists, like the violent insurrectionists who stormed the U.S. Capitol, to intimidate their opponents. In fact, research shows that extreme-right activists have been using guns as tools of violence in increasingly brazen ways.
  • Research shows that open carry makes us less safe: visible guns have been found to make people more aggressive; therefore open carry makes it more likely that disagreements will turn into violent conflicts.
  • Currently, South Carolina prohibits the open carry of handguns, but this session, lawmakers will consider dangerous proposals like HB3094 to allow it. More information about open carry laws is available here.

What to know about permitless carry in South Carolina:

  • Permitless carry legislation strips states of essential permitting and training standards for carrying concealed guns in public. It would allow people to carry loaded handguns in public without a background check or any safety training, dismantling South Carolina’s culture of responsible gun ownership.
  • Permitless carry would also allow people with dangerous histories – including extremists and white supremacists with criminal histories – to evade background check requirements and safeguards to responsible gun ownership.
  • More information about permitless carry is available here.

What to know about gun violence in South Carolina

  • In South Carolina, on average, 859 people are shot and killed with a gun every year.
  • An average of 339 people in South Carolina die by gun homicide every year; South Carolina has the seventh highest rate of gun homicide in the United States. Black people in South Carolina are five times as likely to die by gun homicide as white people.
  • Firearms are the leading cause of death for children and teens in South Carolina. In an average year, 69 children and teens die by gun in South Carolina, and 56% of these deaths are homicides. Black children and teens are twice as likely as their white peers to die by guns. 

Statistics about gun violence in South Carolina are available here, and Everytown’s Gun Law Navigator – which shows how South Carolina gun laws compare to those of other states – is available here

If you have questions, or to request an interview with a volunteer from South Carolina Moms Demand Action, please don’t hesitate to reach out.

If you're a member of the media, please send inquiries to [email protected]