CHARLESTON, S.C., Feb. 17, 2020 /PRNewswire/ -- South Carolina lags far behind other states to strengthen gun safety laws, almost five years after the Charleston Emanuel AME mass shooting and two years since the Parkland, FL school massacre.
Despite these statistics, the SC legislature is considering two Open Carry bills (S.139, also permitless; H.4472) that would make communities "inherently less safe," say law enforcement and community leaders.
According to the annual Giffords Gun Law Scorecard published this past week, dozens of states have passed more than 135 gun safety laws since the tragedy in Parkland, FL on Feb. 14, 2018. In the 2019 state legislative cycle alone, 22 states and DC signed 70 gun safety bills into law.
Nationally, South Carolina is 12th in gun death rate, 8th in firearm homicide rate, 5th in domestic violence fatalities, with rising gun violence in urban areas. According to scorecard data, gun violence is the 2nd leading cause of death for SC children under 17 and ranks 7th in crime gun exports.
Resistance to Open Carry is growing, as reported by Arm-in-Arm, a non-partisan, SC non-profit. The policy is being challenged by law enforcement, mayors of Columbia and Charleston, The League of Women Voters SC, Christian Action Council, Safe Schools Project and others.
"South Carolinians overwhelmingly support stronger gun safety laws," said AIA Board Chairman Peter Zalka. "Not only are we ignoring opportunities to create safer communities, Open Carry takes us in the opposite direction."
Polling indicates SC residents support background checks for all gun sales (84%) including 82% of Republicans and 86% of Democrats (Public Policy Polling 2016). There's also a strong consensus for completed background checks (80-86%; Winthrop 2015, 2018, 2019) a position echoed by 83% of SC gun owners (Winthrop 2018).
Galvanized by the Emanuel AME Church shooting, Arm-in-Arm is an independent, non-partisan grassroots group of more than 1,200 South Carolinians working to close gaps in SC laws that allow guns to fall into the wrong hands, while supporting the right of citizens to lawfully own guns. The group's objective is to reduce the public health crisis of gun violence by supporting relevant legislation and inspiring SC communities to work toward practical solutions.