Unsplash by Chip Vincent

Seven people have died this year so far from gun violence in North Charleston. That’s unacceptable, but it’s heartening that Police Chief Reggie Burgess and community leaders are trying to pierce the continuing threats from guns that are killing people.

Unfortunately, the work of just a few people won’t make much of a difference. It will take the whole village, as pastor Thomas Dixon recognized Friday at a community meeting: “This is not just a police problem or a parenting problem. It’s much much bigger than that. … Every layer can and must do their part to reduce the bloodshed.”

South Carolina is a dangerous place, ranking the seventh deadliest state for gun homicide, according to the CDC. The FBI says the Palmetto State also has the nation’s second-highest rate of aggravated assaults with a firearm. In fact, someone in South Carolina dies every 14 hours because of a gun. It’s even bad for law enforcement officers here: South Carolina has the fourth-worst rate in the nation of police killed by guns.

North Charleston is an epicenter for murder. In the first half of 2016, North Charleston had the 8th highest homicide rate in the country for cities with 100,000 people or more. In 2019, some 26 people in North Charleston died, most from gun violence. With the 14th highest murder rate in the country, a higher percentage of North Charleston residents were killed in 2019 than in Philadelphia (16th highest), Cincinnati (19th), Atlanta (22nd), Chicago (28th), Oakland (31st), Dallas (42nd) and Charlotte (59th).

As mentioned, North Charleston has had seven homicides so far this year.  Chief Burgess says his agency is focusing on getting the guns off the street.  

“While we are fighting each other and beating each other up, they’re killing each other out here,” he said Friday at the S.A.V.E. (Stand Against Violence Everywhere) town hall meeting in North Charleston. “I am not saying you give up what you’re doing, because I am not going to give up what I am doing. I am going to protect those who can’t protect themselves.”

Dixon said organizers and police will join forces to bring people together “to directly address the ‘dots,’ no matter who those ‘dots’ are, in order to make sure they understand their responsibility to do their part to end gun violence.”

Good. More public officials and the public need to join the effort. More than 50 elected officials from North Charleston, Charleston County and the local school board, as well as area state legislators, were invited to Friday’s town hall meeting. Only two showed up.  

That’s pitiful. We all need to work together and do more so we can end the bloodshed. As soon as possible.

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