By Linda Hardman
Legislative Chair, DWGC
Once again, we hear the sickening news that a heavily armed individual has entered a school and, acting on their violent and disturbed impulses, massacred six unsuspecting victims. Three 9-year-olds and three staff members, including the principal of the school, were killed. It was later reported that the murderer was undergoing treatment for an “emotional disorder.” Rather than a safe sanctuary for learning, another school became a killing field. The news leaves us enraged, terrified, and heartbroken.
Twenty-six years ago, a gunman entered another elementary school and killed 16 children and a teacher. We collectively recoiled in horror at the gruesome news. This scene played out at Dunblane Primary School in Scotland. The government responded by enacting tight gun control legislation. In the 9400+ days since, there have been a total of zero school shootings in the United Kingdom. The British decided that their children were more precious than firearms, and they took decisive measures to prove it.
By comparison, the United States has suffered 376 school shootings since the Columbine massacre in 1999. More than 348,000 students have experienced gun violence at their school since then. At least 199 students and educators have been killed, and another 424 have been injured. Guns are the leading cause of death among American children.
The National Institute of Justice (NIJ) reports that there are approximately 310 million firearms in our country. Right-wing gun toters, coupled with the aggressive lobbying of the NRA of our lawmakers, are largely responsible for the saturation of guns in our society by corrupting the interpretation of the Second Amendment. Instead of passing common-sense gun laws to make our communities safer, many states, including South Carolina, have made it easier to acquire and openly carry weapons of all kinds.
The killer at Covenant Presbyterian School in Nashville legally purchased seven guns from five different gun stores, three of which were used in the murders at the school. Research shows that with more relaxed gun control regulations, there are higher rates of mass shootings in this country. As statistics confirm, school shootings are an epidemic in our country. Anyone and everyone who has a break in reality, rage issues, or a score to settle, has just as much access to a firearm as a person who purchases a gun for target practice, to hunt, or to protect their home.
When is enough, enough? For us – you and me – it’s now! We can no longer permit Republican right-wingers to control the narrative on firearms. We must demand that our children’s lives and school safety become a priority. That school children are just as precious as a zygote! Get involved with Moms Demand Action, Everytown for Gun Safety, and Students Demand Action – organizations that work in communities to demand life-saving action to end gun violence. As President Joe Biden says: “We have to do more to stop gun violence. It’s ripping our communities apart. It’s ripping at the soul of our nation.”
Moms Demand Action South Carolina is planning a Statewide Training and Phonebank Party (online event) to make friendly calls to fellow Moms Demand Action volunteers on Wednesday, April 12 at 7:00 pm. The event will begin with a quick training session over Zoom, then jump into making calls, and come back together to answer any questions that might come up. Please sign up at this link and you will receive Zoom information via email: https://bit.ly/3M226y3
More opportunities for advocacy and involvement
The Riley Institute: “Talking Climate in a Red State.” Wednesday, April 12. 6:30-7:30 pm. Watkins Room, Trone Student Center, Furman. To register: call (864) 294-3546 or rileyinstitute@Furman.edu
Conservation Coalition Lobby Day and Oyster Roast: Wednesday, April 5. 9:15-8:00 pm. The Statehouse, 1100 Gervais Street, Columbia. To register: Katie@cvsc.org.
Emerge is hosting a Food Truck Rodeo: During the South Carolina Democratic Convention on April 29, 2023. Tickets will provide access to the food truck area. Reduced ticket prices have been negotiated to make it cost effective for all patrons from the convention. Tickets start at $10.00. South Carolina Fairgrounds, 1200 Rosewood Drive, Columbia, SC 29201. Gate open: 10 am. Gate closes: 3 pm. All proceeds go to Emerge South Carolina to recruit, train, and prepare women for office. Get tickets online.