Earlier this year, the South Carolina General Assembly passed HB 3094, a bill allowing the open carry of handguns in public. The law’s passage came despite vocal opposition from medical professionals, business and faith leaders, law enforcement, and members of the public. To minimize the potential consequences of this dangerous bill, local leaders like Mayor Steve Benjamin of Columbia, a member of Mayors Against Illegal Guns, have stepped up to keep their constituents safe by prohibiting open carry at permitted events in their cities. Today, The State published an op-ed by Mayor Benjamin in which he calls on other local leaders across the state to enact similar measures in their jurisdictions.
“Our state is already in the midst of a crisis, with gun violence killing an average of 908 South Carolinians every year. Though tragic, these numbers are unsurprising given that South Carolina has some of the country’s weakest gun laws — made only worse by the newly enacted open carry law.
“In passing this bill into law, state leadership has chosen to work against the interests of the people they are sworn to serve.
“From storefronts to restaurants, to police departments and houses of worship, South Carolinians have been adamant about their opposition to open carry. We all have a right to be safe in our communities, and it is the government’s job to protect that right.
“That’s why our City Council prohibited open carry at permitted events in Columbia. I urge my fellow local leaders to enact similar measures in their cities in order to keep our people safe.”
Already, Florence, Spartanburg, Greenville, Charleston, and Columbia have taken action to prohibit open carry at permitted events, and more municipalities across South Carolina should follow suit.
Read Mayor Benjamin’s full op-ed here.