A pageant winner and a police chief shared a microphone Wednesday to talk about cupcakes and guns for Domestic Violence Awareness Month.
The news conference was hosted by the North Columbia Business Association, because members are concerned about incidents of domestic violence in the 29203 zip code.
“Domestic violence affects every area of our lives,” said Sabrina Odom, executive director for the business association.
Columbia Police Chief Skip Holbrook took the conference, held at Eau Claire Town Hall, as a chance to come down hard on how easy it is to get a gun in South Carolina.
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“Guns remain the primary weapon when it comes to domestic violence homicides,” Holbrook said. “... I think guns are way too accessible.”
When guns fall into the hands of those under mental and emotional stress, Holbrook said, it leads to disaster.
The chief’s backup came in a long black dress and sparkling crown, in the form of Thomasena Thomas – Columbia’s reigning Miss South Carolina Pearls, which is part of the Miss South Carolina network. Thomas urged listeners to indulge a little extra this Saturday, on Purple Cupcake Day, when participating bakeries will sell purple cupcakes and give the proceeds to combat domestic violence.
Stephany Snowden, representing the Richland County Sheriff’s Department and Sistercare, emphasized that the issue is not just one that affects people while they’re at home.
“If children are in a home where there’s domestic violence, and they’re seeing their parents enraged – or they’re victimized by it – are they going to be getting ‘A’s in school? Probably not,” Snowden said.
How bad is domestic violence in South Carolina? While the state is no longer at the top of the list for most domestic violence homicide victims, it hasn’t fallen far – staying near the top, in fifth place.
The police chief said it’s progress in the right direction, but it’s still a critical issue in the state.
“I think we’re making progress, but to think that in 2015 we had 47 people murdered from domestic violence is shocking,” Holbrook said.