Two articles in the Nov. 10 newspaper illustrate the reality of everyday gun violence, happening right here in South Carolina: not one of the (too-frequent) mass shootings covered by national media, not the gang-on-gang violence often cited, not career criminals.
Regular folks getting into an argument. Regular folks with access to a gun: A Spartanburg woman was charged with murder after she allegedly shot and killed her roommate following an argument. Columbia police arrested a man who allegedly shot an acquaintance after an argument broke out between them.
FBI statistics show that more homicides with a gun result from an escalating argument that from any other circumstances. It happened in my neighborhood a few months ago. It can happen in yours.
The United States has a shameful record regarding people killed with a gun; the number is almost as high as highway fatalities, even higher in some states. Every year, 30,000 people die of gunshots. Guns are used in 68 percent of all homicides, 61 percent of all suicides. Just this month, three people were shot by toddlers who found a loaded gun. Toddlers.
Guns are the weapon of choice in domestic-violence killings. Having a gun in the home, even for self-defense, actually increases the chance that a woman will be killed.
As a nation, as a state, as individuals, we can choose to close our eyes, accept the human and monetary cost of gun violence as collateral damage, blame it on video games or mental health, accept that we will bury every day more than 80 men, women and children.
Or we can choose to address the problem with commonsense measures, measures that will not eliminate gun violence but will reduce the number of victims. Preventing domestic abusers from accessing guns. Holding gun owners responsible if they leave a gun where kids can access it and shoot themselves or somebody else. Requiring background checks for buyers in private sales. Measures that have been tried and proven effective.
Several organizations are working in this direction, including some that have gun owners as members; Moms Demand Action for Gunsense in America has an active chapter in South Carolina. The Faith Coalition on Gun Violence just held a rally this month in Columbia.
We have been able to reduce the number of dead and injured in car accidents, thanks to safety features in cars, cracking down on drunken driving and enforcing speed limits. It is possible to reduce the number of dead and injured by gunshots. If we choose to.