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South Carolina Honors College

The Red Flood of Ignorance

by Davies Roberts

With its gorgeous, salty skies, our state is admired for its beauty and praised for its palmettos. Our hospitality, our people, our cities, our food, our arts, our sports: far and wide, South Carolina is beloved for its warm Southern culture. We smile on our sands, wade in our marshes, hike our hills, but raging storms roar right over our heads. Beyond our golden beaches, our state is polluted with gun violence.

In 2015, the bloody floodgates burst open in Charleston. As nine African American worshippers at Emanuel African Methodist Episcopal Church progressed through their Bible study that June day, a white neo-Nazi man stood up and slaughtered them in cold blood. His horrific massacre rose to the front of the gun violence scene in America; nothing changed back home.

South Carolina is referred to as one of the most dangerous places to live in the United States. From 2016 to 2021, a total of 5,059 souls were lost to gun violence in our state alone, reports the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. Accordingly, reports that the rate of gun deaths in South Carolina increased by 48 percent from 2011 to 2020, compared to the average national increase of 33 percent; they also provide that South Carolina has the sixth highest rate of gun violence in the nation. Our community is trashed with firearms, and it is only getting worse.

On August 15, 2021, the South Carolina General Assembly passed legislation allowing concealed carry permits, authorizing individuals with these licenses to legally carry handguns in public under their coats. Today, further government action attempts to expand this number of firearm-carrying individuals.

The South Carolina State Senate is arguing for legislation that would allow all individuals over eighteen years old to obtain a firearm. Regardless of any permit or training, this “constitutional carry” movement has begun to seep into our borders. These laws would permit frustrated high schoolers to waltz into any firearm dealership and exit with weapons of death. As these teenagers stand unshielded against the tempest of gun violence, we do nothing but stand aside and pray they don’t fall. These students could even purchase weapons free of a background check in scenarios where the dealer is an unlicensed seller (Giffords Law Center). Five years after Dylann Roof traumatized the Charleston community, nothing has changed. Our homes are flooded by the storm’s hateful rain, darkened by the shadows of violence.

The right to bear arms as mentioned in the Bill of Rights has a reason to be acknowledged by every state in America; however, when it was written in 1791 the most common weaponry that American citizens could possess were muskets. The presence of firearms in our country can be used as a positive reinforcement to ensure safety among citizens, but this has not been the case as time has progressed. Because of current statutes, South Carolinians are currently enabled to respond to gun violence problems by using even more firearms. Our state has cast its citizens into defense mode, pushing out guns rather than delegating precautionary measures themselves. While we face such grave and direct problems with their lenient legislation, they still search for ways to expand upon it. While staying true to the Second Amendment, laws should be passed ensuring the right people have the right guns in their hands, rather than bills seeking to grant even more weaponry. Our streets flow red with the ignorance of lawmakers.

Gun violence is a gaping wound that we can’t heal instantaneously. While we can’t remove the gash entirely, we can help it heal it into a scar. We can aid our people, homes, cities with the proper legislation that can add bandage upon bandage. We must move away from the assumption that things will simply resolve themselves.

I propose that South Carolina pass a multitude of laws to temper the furious storm of gun violence. The minimum age to purchase a firearm should be raised from eighteen to twenty-one years old; the buyers of these guns should be required to take a safety course, presenting their safety certificate upon purchase. Likewise, citizens who own guns that are not required to be registered with the government – which is currently acceptable in our state – should be required to do so. I believe that in changing our nonchalant attitude towards firearms, South Carolina will strengthen its floodgates, mop the bloodied streets, diminish the dark clouds, and let the sun shine again.

Davies Roberts

About Davies Roberts

Davies Roberts is a senior at Heathwood Hall Episcopal School in Columbia, where Elise Hagstette is his English teacher. The son of Dale and Alex Roberts, Davies played football and tennis for Heathwood, and was editor-in-chief for the yearbook. He plans to attend the University of South Carolina and major in visual communications. Davies has worked as an intern for the New and Creative Media team at South Carolina Athletics, managed @GamecocksToday on Instagram and X, and is the lead graphic designer for Gamecock Club Hockey.

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