As the South Carolina legislature returns for the start of the 2022 legislative session today, lawmakers will once again have the opportunity to pass common-sense gun safety bills. 2021 was marked by staggering levels of gun violence fueled by the gun lobby’s “guns everywhere” agenda. Across the nation, we saw historic levels of gunfire on school grounds and record homicide numbers in some cities. Shootings across the states underscored the deadly effects of America’s lax gun legislation, and the high profile trials of Ahmaud Arbery’s murderers and Kyle Rittenhouse highlighted the dangers of open carry and ‘Stand Your Ground’ or ‘Shoot First’ laws. As the stress and rippling effects of the COVID-19 pandemic extend into the new year, meaningful action on gun safety remains more critical than ever.
Last year, the South Carolina General Assembly passed HB 3094 — a bill allowing the open carry of handguns in public — ignoring vocal opposition from medical professionals, business and faith leaders, law enforcement, and members of the public, and putting South Carolinians at risk. To minimize the potential consequences of this dangerous bill, local leaders like former Mayor Steve Benjamin of Columbia, a member of Mayors Against Illegal Guns, had to step up to keep their constituents safe by prohibiting open carry at permitted events in their cities.
This year, lawmakers should protect South Carolinians by rejecting dangerous legislation that would weaken our gun laws and, instead, support gun safety bills that would reduce gun deaths and save lives, starting with opposing permitless carry legislation and funding violence intervention programs.
What to know about permitless carry in South Carolina:
- Permitless carry legislation like HB 3096 — which has already passed the House and is currently sitting in the Senate Judiciary Committee — would allow people to carry loaded handguns in public, openly or concealed, without a permit, dismantling Alabama’s culture of responsible gun ownership.
- Permitless carry laws significantly hinder law enforcement’s ability to prevent people with dangerous histories — including extremists and white supremacists with criminal histories — to carry firearms.
- Permitless carry has been staunchly opposed by law enforcement across multiple states, including the executive director of the South Carolina Sheriff’s Association.
- More information about permitless carry is available here.
What to know about Violence Intervention Programs in South Carolina:
- Communities across South Carolina are suffering from the impacts of gun violence.
- Local violence reduction, intervention, and prevention programs can help reduce gun violence in some of the communities most heavily impacted.
- By using funds allocated to the state by the American Rescue Plan Act to support and expand violence intervention programs, the South Carolina legislature can help community-based partnerships and non-profit organizations conduct life-saving work throughout the state.
- More information on violence intervention programs is available here.
What to know about gun violence in South Carolina:
- In South Carolina, on average, 908 people are shot and killed with a gun every year.
- An average of 377 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 more than 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, 78 children and teens die by gun in South Carolina, and 58% of these deaths are homicides.
- Gun violence costs South Carolina $6.1 billion each year, of which $297.5 million is paid by taxpayers.
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.