South Carolina has the sixth-highest rate of gun violence in the country, according to a state-by-state analysis released Wednesday by the Center for American Progress.
State by state
States with the most gun violence:LouisianaAlaskaAlabamaArizonaMississippiSouth CarolinaNew MexicoMissouriArkansasGeorgia States with the least gun violence:NebraskaMaineMinnesotaRhode IslandIowaNew YorkNew JerseyConnecticutMassachusettsHawaiiSource: Center for American Progress
The report, presented at a roundtable discussion in North Charleston and at events in six other cities across the country, created rankings from 10 gun-violence indicators, such as firearm deaths among children, firearm homicides among women and law-enforcement agents killed with a firearm.
“We know that weak gun laws lead to more gun violence,” said Lance Orchid, national organizing director on Gun Violence Prevention, who also moderated the roundtable.
The 10 states with the weakest gun laws have a level of gun violence that is more than twice as high as the 10 states with the strongest gun laws, according to the report. Orchid was joined by state Rep. Wendell Gilliard of Charleston, Charleston City Councilman Dudley Gregorie, other local leaders and victims of gun violence.
“Reducing gun violence in our community isn’t about numbers, it’s about personal stories,” Orchid said. Stories like those of forum participants Lori Haas, whose daughter was injured in the Virginia Tech shooting, and Marie Tate, wife of a Beaufort County sheriff’s officer killed in the line of duty.
“When we have laws that allow dangerous people access to firearms, something’s wrong,” said Haas, a member of the Coalition to Stop Gun Violence. “Gun violence visits any and every community across America. It’s a horrifying and sad commentary that this type of violence continues when we know how to do a better job.”
Gaillard said he has received threatening calls and letters since February, when he introduced legislation to define and ban assault weapons.
“I got tired of going to funerals,” he said. “I know the assault weapons are in our communities in the hands of drug dealers. I know there will be other incidents unless we take action to stop it.”
He said he will not give up on the bill, which is in committee.
Other participants talked about the need to get involved.
“If we sit in forums like this and just continue to talk and put out ideas and no action, what have we done? We’ve wasted time,” said Eugene Hamilton, pastor of Shiloh Seventh Day Adventist Church. “It is important that we take action — not tomorrow, but take action now. Lives are at stake.”