South Carolina Moms Demand Action and Students Demand Action, both part of Everytown for Gun Safety’s grassroots network, released the following statements in response to a rash of false school shooting threats that swept the state yesterday. According to reports, more than a dozen schools across South Carolina went into lockdown in response to threats that appear to have been part of a coordinated ‘swatting’ campaign. Officers responded to these threats in at least thirteen districts. While no one was injured in any of these incidents, these lockdowns were traumatizing for the students and staff involved as well as for the parents who waited to hear that their children were safe. Yesterday was just the latest in a string of similar incidents across the country.
“We shouldn’t have to live like this,” said Eva Edwards, a volunteer with Students Demand Action in South Carolina. “For a generation that has grown up living in fear of gun violence, every single threat feels real. And even though these calls turned out to be a hoax, there’s nothing fake about the trauma that has resulted from them. While I’m grateful these threats weren’t real, I’m furious that we live in a state where they easily could be.”
Weak gun laws and a culture of gun violence have created an environment where communities across South Carolina have to live in fear that gun violence could break out at any moment, and every threat of violence must be taken seriously. This public health crisis is impacting the state’s youth population. Earlier this year, Youth League players ran for their lives while playing baseball in North Charleston. And in March, a twelve-year old student was shot and killed in a shooting at Tanglewood Middle School. Between 2021-2022, there have been at least ten incidents of gunfire on school grounds in South Carolina, and guns are the leading cause of death among the state’s youth population.
Despite the fact that South Carolina has weak gun laws and one of the highest rates of gun violence in the country, state lawmakers have only worked to weaken the state’s existing protections in recent years. Just last year, Governor Henry McMaster signed open carry into law, allowing people to openly carry handguns in public places. To address the state’s ongoing gun violence crisis, state lawmakers must prioritize public safety and advance a common sense gun safety agenda instead of working to further dismantle the state’s already sparse gun laws.
Statistics about gun violence in South Carolina are available here, and Everytown’s report on how to keep schools safe from gun violence is available here.
If you’d like to speak with a South Carolina Moms Demand Action or Students Demand Action volunteer, please do not hesitate to reach out.