Andrew Dys

Guns – easy to get in South Carolina, but some are fed up

In this 2012 file photo, three variations of the AR-15 assault rifle are displayed at the California Department of Justice in Sacramento, Calif. While the guns look similar, the bottom version is illegal in California because of its quick reload capabilities. Omar Mateen used an AR-15 that he purchased legally when he killed 49 people in an Orlando nightclub over the weekend President Barack Obama and other gun control advocates have repeatedly called for reinstating a federal ban on semi-automatic assault weapons that expired in 2004, but have been thwarted by Republicans in Congress.
In this 2012 file photo, three variations of the AR-15 assault rifle are displayed at the California Department of Justice in Sacramento, Calif. While the guns look similar, the bottom version is illegal in California because of its quick reload capabilities. Omar Mateen used an AR-15 that he purchased legally when he killed 49 people in an Orlando nightclub over the weekend President Barack Obama and other gun control advocates have repeatedly called for reinstating a federal ban on semi-automatic assault weapons that expired in 2004, but have been thwarted by Republicans in Congress. AP

The U.S. House Democrats’ sit-in over guns after the worst mass gun killing in American history has come and gone. No laws have changed. The guns remain.

Guns are always with us. Their sole purpose is to kill. Or maim. Or commit mayhem and crimes. Donald Trump wants guns everywhere. Except the cops who guard him protect him from one thing: People with guns.

Alice Walker spoke of guns Friday. Walker’s son, Daniel Ervin, was shot once in the back in Rock Hill more than two years ago in an unsolved crime. She has crusaded for justice ever since and will not stop. She has watched the aftermath of the Orlando massacre and said this word Friday: “Guns.”

“I want justice for my son who was shot in the back,” Walker said. “He was killed with a gun.”

In Rock Hill on July 9, two Winthrop students – both Rock Hill natives – are holding an event to raise awareness of the gun violence problem to all – especially young people. The event is simply called “Put the Guns Down.”

“We are doing this because of all the gun violence and deaths in our community and around the country,” said LaQuita Ingram, 25, one of the organizers.

Gun defenders say the guns are for self-defense or hunting and shooting sports. Apparently softball is not enough for those whose sporting taste requires blasting away. In South Carolina, it is still easy, and legal, to buy an assault rifle that has one designed purpose of killing in war.

Others claim that for defense from criminals with guns, they need so many guns themselves.

The other sport is the buying and selling of those guns here in Rock Hill and York County. For re-sale, by criminals, to other criminals. Guns are their footballs.

The problem is bullets do not fall to the ground like Nerf balls if used in crime.

When New York City cops in the summer of 2013 made the largest seizure of guns in the city’s long and bloody history, almost every one of the 243 guns came from the Carolinas. At least 90 of those guns came from York County, South Carolina.

The table with all the guns on it almost fell from the weight of the iron. There were banana clips filled with cop killer bullets, and handguns of shiny silver and brushed steel and matte back and all kinds of ammunition that in South Carolina is as legal as black-eyed peas and ham.

The brazen and brash ringleader of all these guns was from right here in Rock Hill, named Earl Campbell. Campbell rode buses with bags filled with so many guns to sell the straps of the bags dug into his shoulder. Sure there were some stolen guns in there but he used South Carolina’s gun laws to his advantage — he got people to buy legal guns to use for illegal sales that could be later used for crimes.

His girlfriend, from Rock Hill, too, nicknamed Zebra Girl by cops for the zebra-striped suitcase she carried assault weapons and guns in, even tried to assemble a machine gun in broad daylight on a busy street using her cellphone as a guide.

Forget Siri and maps – people from South Carolina want an app for assault weapon assembly.

Campbell, 26, a convicted felon, knew getting guns here was easy. But even he who was in the gun business did not know how easy. He thought there was a long waiting period of a month for his suppliers to buy gun after gun here in South Carolina.

Campbell told an undercover cop these words: “The problem is that the gun laws passed now, so it’s like now I can only buy a gun from a gun store every 30 days. So I had to, like, pay different people to keep buying different guns.”

He was wrong – it was even easier than Campbell thought.

The once-a-month handgun purchase law died in 2004 in South Carolina. Guns can still be bought in South Carolina in 2016 like M&Ms.

Campbell was not the best criminal, though. He and his crew were stung by an undercover cop who took him and the rest down. They were sentenced to years in prison.

Those guns from Rock Hill were confiscated. Other guns were not. Those guns continue to maim and kill as politicians do nothing.

That’s why young people such as LaQuita Ingram and Shaundrea Douglas, fed up with gun violence, are holding their Rock Hill put the guns down event July 9.

The gun that killed Alice Walker’s son was on the street, and used for its sole purpose – death. Now she as a mother has to read the paper and watch the news as guns kill other mothers’ sons and daughters.

Want to go?

“Put the Guns Down” is from 1 p.m. to 5 p.m. July 9 at the former American Legion building, 199 S. Cherry Road, Rock Hill. It is a free event.

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