By Andy Brack, editor and publisher | The gun killings and shootings in South Carolina continue with devastating impact.
And the sad thing: We know what to do about them. But as a people, we just don’t have the courage to do anything.
In the week leading to July 12, nine South Carolinians died after being shot in Charleston, Orangeburg, Beaufort, Lexington, Richland, Greenwood and Spartanburg counties. Six others were injured in shootings across the state, according to media and police reports.
In Greenwood, for example, a 20-year-old man died in a hospital emergency room about 4 p.m. July 7 after being shot in the upper body. The death is being investigated as a homicide, but there’s no word on who shot him or any motive, according to one report. Two nights later, one man died outside of a Columbia apartment complex. The same day, also in Columbia, police put a tourniquet on a man who was shot and later died.
The week before: Eight died and seven were hurt in shootings around the state. The week before that: 10 died and 10 were shot. And the week before: Nine died and eight were hurt in gun incidents.
Over this past month this summer in South Carolina, at least three dozen people died because of guns. Another 31 were hurt.
Imagine this horrifying human impact by thinking of a group that’s about 75 people – a big football team, a medium-sized church, a packed local restaurant. One month it’s there and the next, it’s not. You’d notice.
What’s sadder is that those numbers are actually low, according to GunViolenceArchive.org, which tracks gun deaths and people injured by shootings. While its records show about the same number of South Carolina people died 30 days from mid-June to mid-July (34 versus 36), it documents that 66 people were hurt – 35 more than showed up in media reports.
All totaled in the Palmetto since the beginning of the year: 226 gun deaths and 393 people hurt by gun violence.
But we seem to ignore the continuing deaths and suffering thanks to guns.
Nationally, the numbers are even more alarming. As of July 14, more than 10,000 Americans died in shootings related to murders or unintentional shootings, according to the tracking organization. Another 12,870 committed suicide by gun. And so far this year as of July 14, the number of mass shootings – incidents in which at least four people are shot – is at 376. That’s more than happened in all of 2016 and 2017.
Gun violence is getting worse. The numbers prove it.
What’s frustrating to many is there are policy options that can limit the numbers of needless deaths and shootings – everything from banning some guns (which will never happen in South Carolina) to requiring registration to toughen access to dangerous weapons, mandating extensive training, closing loopholes, requiring more extensive background checks or even taxing bullets.
As we wrote last year, our leaders, particularly in the S.C. General Assembly, don’t seem to be doing their jobs in taking on this increasingly deadly problem:
“Unfortunately, about half of the people elected to Congress and state legislatures stick their fingers in their ears and hum, ‘nah, nah, mmm, mmm’ to avoid engaging on the subject. It doesn’t help that the majority of them have been co-opted by a rabid gun lobby with gazillions of dollars that make politicians cower like Harry Potter house elves.
“Nevertheless, we have a duty to pull our heads out of the political sand and deal with the gun intransigence that has swept across America. Too many people are dead. Perhaps the only real way to get something done is to hold politicians more accountable. Nothing else seems to work. So let’s get loud and force them to state their positions and take action, instead of avoiding and deflecting. And then let’s vote them out of office if they won’t do what they are elected to do – take on tough issues and fix huge problems.”
Stop the dawdling, lawmakers. For a change, make a difference to make our communities safer.
Award-winning columnist Andy Brack is editor and publisher of Statehouse Report and the Charleston City Paper. Have a comment? Send to: email@example.com
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