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South Carolina Gun Violence

Nearly 100 confiscated illegal firearms—many from out-of-state sources, notably South Carolina—rest on a table before a press conference on October 12, 2012, in New York City.

Endnotes and citations are available in the PDF and Scribd versions.

South Carolina’s rates of gun crime are among the worst in the nation.

  • South Carolina is the fourth-deadliest state for gun homicide: There were 5.31 gun murders for every 100,000 people in the state in 2013, 47 percent higher than the national average of 3.61 gun murders per 100,000 people.
  • At nearly 2.5 times more than the national average, South Carolina has the third-worst rate of aggravated assault with a firearm in the country.

The number of South Carolina residents who have been victims of gun violence is staggering.

  • From 2004 through 2013, there were 6,461 people killed by guns in South Carolina. That is 20 percent more than all U.S. combat deaths in the Iraq and Afghanistan wars combined.
  • As of 2013, someone is killed with a gun every 14 hours in the state, and an aggravated assault with a firearm occurs every 1.5 hours.

Fatal altercations between law enforcement officers and civilians are common in South Carolina.

  • The rate at which law enforcement officers are feloniously killed with guns in the state is 10th worst in the nation. Between 2005 and 2014, 10 law enforcement agents were murdered by guns.
  • With a rate 30 percent higher than the national average, South Carolina ranks 12th in terms of incidents in which police officers fatally shot civilians from January to November 2015.

Women in South Carolina face an extraordinarily high risk of fatal domestic violence, and access to firearms is a significant driver of those deaths.

  • In the most recent 10-year period—2004 through 2013—South Carolina ranked fourth worst in the nation for the rate at which women are murdered by guns, 75 percent above the national norm.
  • On the narrower indicator of fatal domestic violence committed against women with a gun between 2004 and 2013, South Carolina ranks as the worst state and has the highest rate of these murders of any state in the country.

South Carolina has some of the weakest gun laws in the nation.  

  • The Law Center to Prevent Gun Violence gives South Carolina an “F” for having enacted few gun laws.
  • This organization gives South Carolina 14 out of 100 possible points on its 2014 state rankings.

Weak laws make South Carolina a favorite state for illegal gun traffickers to purchase guns.

  • South Carolina has the fifth-highest rate of crime gun exports—guns sold in South Carolina that are later used in crimes in other states—in the country.
  • On this key marker of illegal gun trafficking, the state had a rate of interstate crime gun trafficking that was 88 percent higher than the national average from 2012 to 2014.