Gun Violence in South Carolina: What You Need to Know

The frequency of gun violence in the United States and globally has created a media frenzy.? Targets have ranged from personal, to random to law enforcement with lives lost reaching unspeakable numbers.? The social declaration of #PrayFor has become a part of our daily digital worship.

Throughout the United States a growing sense of fear and unrest has been pitted into our subconscious forcing us to question our choices in establishments to frequent and interactions with strangers.

Just how bad is the gun violence in our home state of South Carolina and around the United States?

Gun Violence Archive has compiled data made up of 1500 sources updated July 27th, 2016.

The mission of GVA:

Gun Violence Archive (GVA) is a not for profit corporation formed in 2013 to provide online public access to accurate information about gun-related violence in the United States. GVA will collect and check for accuracy, comprehensive information about gun-related violence in the U.S. and then post and disseminate it online, primarily if not exclusively on this website and summary ledgers at www.facebook.com/gunviolencearchive. It is hoped that this information will inform and assist those engaged in discussions and activities concerning gun violence, including analysis of proposed regulations or legislation relating to gun safety usage.

GVA is not, by design an advocacy group. The mission of GVA is to document incidents of gun violence and gun crime nationally to provide independent, verified data to those who need to use it in their research, advocacy or writing.

These charts outline the current data for 2016 as well as archived statistics for 2014 and 2015.

2016 Gun Violence Statistics

Frequency of Incidents in 2016 by State
Frequency of Incidents in 2016 by State

 

Comparisons of national data for 2014 and 2015:

According to The Guardian, 89 out of 100 Americans owns a firearm compared to 6 out of 100 in England and Wales.

South Carolina Data

In 2014, South Carolina had the 10th worst firearm mortality rate in the United States with 15.5 deaths per population of 100,000.

In 2011, South Carolina was ranked 15th in raw firearm deaths with 223 of the 8583 in the United States.? 70% of all murders in the state that year were a result of a firearm.? In 2014, 764 deaths in the state were by the use of a firearm.

The top 10 worst states? in firearm death rate in 2014 were:

  • Louisiana – 18.9
  • Alaska – 18.8
  • Mississippi – 18.0
  • Alabama – 16.7
  • Arkansas – 16.4
  • Wyoming – 16.0
  • Montana – 15.8
  • New Mexico – 15.8
  • Oklahoma – 15.6
  • South Carolina – 15.5

Source:? http://wonder.cdc.gov

We have a civil obligation to raise a voice an be heard.? Strength is in action, example and unity.

Why Additional Gun Control Legislation Just Won’t Work

By Mark A. Leon

On January 5, President Obama discussed executive actions on gun control.? It was a noble act and in light of one of the most violent and deadliest years the United States has seen (outside of Civil War), it makes sense from the framework of a political mind.? In fact, on December 25 (Christmas), there were 27 gun related homicides (not including suicide) which was more than eight combined countries around the world for all of 2015.? In Charleston, it will be a long time before we every forget the Walter Scott incident and the devastating Emanuel AME shootings.

The issue is simple:? These are just words on a piece of paper hidden behind the walls of a historic building with very little chance of leading to positive change.? I know that is a rather negative statement, but what we are witnessing is a political response.? When we have a tragic event, someone or something must answer and take responsibility and that is guns.

We are just brushing one thing under the rug but ignoring so many other key elements of the problem.

Let us take a look at other factors that need critical attention:

  • With population increase, there are volume increases in sub-groups within a population.? As federal and state funding decreases, some groups do not have the resources, shelters and often go undiagnosed.? That is the population of mentally ill.? As there are struggles to have institutions to house these individuals and health care cost concerns that result in so many going undiagnosed, we have a national issue of mental illness that needs immediate attention and resolution.
  • Social media has created a culture of immediacy, laziness, emotional disconnect, public forum without thought, process and due diligence and accessibility.? With the lines of global communication open, digital addictions, forced agendas and opinions and a general human disconnect, we are shut down from emotional connection and fragile to brain washing.
  • numb2The millennials are the “second” generation to fall pray to the social kidnapping that is creating a society of followers that are weakened by economic turmoil, lack of jobs, violence, overcrowding and hatred.? The parents were the first to begin with Farmville and end with the celebration of the Ku Klux Klan and Donald Trump.? Without strong parenting role models, our children have little hope.
  • Wage disparity.? The gap between the extreme rich and much higher majority in the poverty category has always been a part of the US infrastructure.? Now we are at the worst levels in over half a century and the gap is getting larger.? Money is the root of evil for many.? When 1% can buy 50% of the people, you will get backlash.
  • Education issues.? Ignorance is bliss.? Are there still schools and parents that believe blacks should still be slaves, rednecks shouldn’t date their family and financial institutions and politicians? are greedy agenda driven thieves.? Yes.? They are still pushing these narrow minded appeals on today’s youth.? Also, the quality of education is driving the US down in science and mathematics and make it difficult to compete for some of the most competitive careers as well.
  • Finally, apathy.? We are walking around like zombies (thus the popularity of the shows) without feeling, without emotion and most importantly without the need to feel responsibility for our own actions.

Maybe we need to look at all the factors and develop, not just legislation but examples of positive change not just for the good of our home, but the future of our planet.

Wake Me Up When June Ends – From Emanuel AME to San Bernandino – A Trail of Blood Continues

By Mark A. Leon

On a warm Wednesday evening in June, the world was shaken by a horrific act that took the lives of nine faithful members of the Charleston, SC community at the Emanuel African Methodist Episcopal Church.? An act so heinous and premeditated that it had the world questioning the core of humanity.? Tonight we look on once again from our televisions and tablets and await further details that help answer the question, “why?” as the media flocks to the other side of the the country to a spot in Southern California where there will be fourteen lives laid to rest before their time should be up.

Since June a stream of tears has traveled from the East to West Coast leaving us uncertain and in a state of fear.? We can question until we are driven to insanity, but it won’t bring back lives.? What we can do is so much stronger; love life, humanity and one another.

As I reflect on my most valued moments, I am taken to a place where children laugh and play in the sand as the calming sounds of waves brush off their feet and sink them into the grains.? Then as the moon shines just the right amount of light through the window, I am safe under a thin white sheet holding my loved one as tight as I can.? That is the future I want for my children and the present I want today.

Once again, as I did the morning of June 18 walking The Battery at 6 AM, I ask myself the question “why?” as I think of the families of the victims mourning this evening.

My only saving grace is faith and hope and is there a more perfect time of the year when the world collectively looks past the commercial elements of the season and embraces the shining light over Bethlehem that symbolizes purity and innocence?? As we enter the holiday season, we have an opportunity to truly make a difference.? Not with sacrifice, but a commitment to our families, neighbors and strangers to live in unity.

Often I find myself praising peace, but it is so much more than sharing words; but converting to action.? I have never been in a physical fight or shot a gun nor am I pleading to the world to do the same.? That would be an impossible task.? Earlier this week, I was in a foreign land where law enforcement carried machines guns.? I was safe and scared all at the same time.? It is difficult when this level of conflict takes over your very soul.? I am not back home where our law enforcement carries much small weapons and still that conflict eats at my core.

Over and over tonight I listened to the words Jonathan Larson wrote over 20 years ago, which has been performed and embraced in over 100 countries and all I could think of is that 9 people in Charleston and 14 in San Bernandino will never have another today; but we do:

There is no future
There is no past
Thank God this moment’s not the last

There’s only us
There’s only this
Forget regret– or life is yours to miss.
No other road
No other way
No day but today

There’s only yes
Only tonight
We must let go
To know what is right
No other course
No other way
No day but today

I can’t control
My destiny
I trust my soul
My only hope
is just to be

There’s only now
There’s only here
Give in to love
Or live in fear
No other path
No other way
No day but today

The sun will rise tomorrow for most of us.? Many will shower, drive to work, have a cup or two of coffee, earn a paycheck, come home to dinner and watch the Big Bang Theory.? During that day, we will text a loved one, send a cute note, give them a hug when we come home and maybe even surprise them with flowers.

A special few will see life a little different.? The smell of the flowers will be a little stronger, the smile on a babies face will make you smile a little brighter, the sound of a song will move you to tears and the warmth of the sun will feel like something you never experienced before.

Tomorrow will come soon and I will express a quiet moment of thought and prayer for the entire community of San Bernandino and for all the places around the world that are experiencing hatred and violence.? I will continue to have faith in a world of peace.

It isn’t such a bad idea after all.