Center for American Progress

RELEASE: CAP Report Finds Strong Link Between South Carolina’s Weak Gun Laws and a High Rates of Gun Violence
Press Release

RELEASE: CAP Report Finds Strong Link Between South Carolina’s Weak Gun Laws and a High Rates of Gun Violence

Report shows that the 10 States with Weakest Gun Laws Collectively Have 3 Times More Gun Violence than the 10 States with the Strongest Gun Laws

Washington, D.C. — A new Center for American Progress report released today has found that South Carolina ranks sixth in the nation for the overall rate of gun violence. A person is killed with a gun in South Carolina every 13 hours, and more people were killed with guns in the state from 2005 to 2014 than the total number of U.S. soldiers killed in combat in the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan combined. South Carolina ranked first in the nation for the rate of women killed with guns by intimate partners. The Center for American Progress has also published an interactive map that links to state specific fact sheets providing detailed information about gun violence in South Carolina.

The report analyzes 10 specific indicators of gun violence in all 50 states and found that the 10 states with the weakest gun laws collectively have levels of gun violence that are more than three times higher than the 10 states with the strongest gun laws.

“There is an unquestionable link between the strength of South Carolina gun laws and the rates of gun violence in the state,” said Chelsea Parsons, Vice President for Guns and Crime Policy at CAP. “While strong gun laws are certainly not the only factor impacting levels of gun violence, it is undeniable that Americans in states with stronger gun laws are safer from gun violence than those in states with weaker laws. Lawmakers in South Carolina should strongly consider strengthening gun laws in order to reduce gun deaths and make all of South Carolina’s communities safer.

The report looks at 10 critical indicators of gun violence in the United States, including overall gun deaths; gun suicides, homicides and accidents; mass shootings; intimate partner gun homicides of women; gun deaths of people younger than age 21; law enforcement feloniously killed with a gun; fatal shootings by police; and the rate at which crime guns are exported. By comparing the data from all 50 states to the corresponding grade from the Law Center to Prevent Gun Violence’s “2015 State Law Scorecard”—which rates the strength of state gun laws—the report found a striking correlation between the strength of a state’s gun laws and the rates of gun violence in that state.

This fall, a five-member South Carolina Senate Judiciary sub-committee is holding meetings throughout the state on gun violence.

“South Carolina legislators understand we have a serious public health crisis on our hands,” says Meghan Alexander, founder of Gun Sense SC. “The first two hearings were standing room only and included testimony from gun owners; veterans; doctors and hospital administrators; victims and their families; faith leaders; and domestic violence and mental health advocates. South Carolina desperately needs gun safety legislation that closes the gaps in our existing system, a system that already exists, a system that works. We need universal background checks, and we need more time to complete them. Two recent South Carolina-specific polls concur with all the national polls since Sandy Hook, which reveal overwhelming nonpartisan support for closing the gaps in the background check law.”

The report offers common sense recommendations that policymakers in South Carolina should consider to reduce gun violence, including closing the private sale loophole and requiring background checks for all gun sales, prohibiting domestic abusers and stalkers from gun possession, banning or more strictly regulating assault weapons and high-capacity magazines, and investing in community-based violence prevention programs.

Click here to read the report.

View an interactive map.

For more information on this topic or to speak with an expert, contact Tom Caiazza at or 202.481.7141.