South Carolina

South Carolina lawmakers call for action after multiple mass shootings

Video shows police helping injured during El Paso shooting

Video shows police helping injured during a shooting in El Paso, TX. El Paso Police say multiple people were injured.
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Video shows police helping injured during a shooting in El Paso, TX. El Paso Police say multiple people were injured.

S.C. lawmakers reacted on social media — and some called for action — after two mass shootings less than 24 hours apart rocked the country over the weekend.

Both Republicans and Democrats from South Carolina spoke out on Twitter after the shootings in El Paso, Texas, and Dayton, Ohio, which left a total of 31 people dead and more than 60 wounded within a 14-hour time span.

U.S. Sen. Lindsey Graham, an ally of President Donald Trump, called Saturday for “common-sense legislation,” referring to his push for so-called “red flag laws.” Graham has long been a supporter of passing such laws, which would allow courts to issue protection orders to keep guns away from people deemed a danger to themselves or others at a family member’s request.

“Time to do more than pray,” Graham tweeted after the El Paso shooting. “Time to enact common-sense legislation in Congress to empower states to deal with those who present a danger to themselves and others — while respecting robust due process.”

In a national television address Monday, President Donald Trump also said he would back so-called red flag laws and for the U.S. Department of Justice to strengthen hate crime laws. South Carolina not does have a hate crime statute.

Early Monday, Trump tweeted in support of passing stronger background checks. However, he did not mention the initiative during his televised address.

Graham was joined by South Carolina Democrats in Congress in calling for action in the wake of the violent weekend.

U.S. Rep. Jim Clyburn — the third most powerful Democrat in the House of Representatives — called for change on Twitter Saturday, but did not specify what action he would take.

“Today’s tragic shooting in El Paso was devastating,” Clyburn tweeted. “As a nation, we grieve. As a Congress, we must act. When is enough enough?”

U.S. Rep. Joe Cunningham, a freshman legislator, also said on Twitter that something must be done.

“My heart is with the people of El Paso. Thank you to the first responders for their quick action,” Cunningham tweeted. “Far too many American families have been torn apart by senseless gun violence — in schools, churches, and shopping centers. We must take bold action to save lives.”

On “Face the Nation” Sunday, Republican U.S. Sen. Tim Scott said he would be happy to return to Washington to take a vote on gun legislation. But, he also warned that Americans should not politicize the shootings during his TV appearance.

“This is an issue of human hate, something that resides in the heart and that is actually, unfortunately because of social technology and the social media, we’re seeing it connect it to other folks who have hate in their heart as well,” Scott said.

Acting Chief of Staff Mick Mulvaney — who once served as a U.S. Representative for South Carolina — echoed Scott’s sentiment, saying that neither Trump nor any other politician should be blamed for this weekend’s shootings.

“This was a sick person, the person in Dayton was a sick person,” Mulvaney said on ABC News Sunday. “No politician is to blame for that. The person who was responsible here are the people who pulled the trigger. We need to figure out how to kind of create less of those kinds of people as a society and not trying to figure out who gets blamed going into the next election.”

Other public officials from South Carolina issued their condolences on social media over the weekend.

“I grieve for the families and communities who lost loved ones in California, Texas and Ohio,” U.S. Rep. Ralph Norman, a Rock Hill Republican, tweeted. “We need to call out these acts for what they are: Terrorism.”

SC lawmakers revive gun debate

State lawmakers, including some Republicans, also responded on social media to the weekend of deadly gun violence.

Republican state Sen. Greg Gregory, of Lancaster, sounded off multiple times on social media about the tragedies.

“If more guns and ‘constitutional carry’ are the answer to curbing violence in the US, where were the ‘good guys w/ a gun’ among the 3,000 civilians at the Walmart #ElPasoTerroristAttack ?” tweeted Gregory, who has sponsored stricter gun legislation with Senate Democrats.

Gregory also said a 100 round magazine, which was used by the shooter in Dayton, Ohio, “is a weapon of war with no other purpose than to kill (people).” State Rep. Gary Clary , R-Pickens, quoted tweeted Gregory’s post and said, “I’m with Senator Gregory.”

In a video posted to his Twitter account, state Rep. J.A. Moore, D-Berkeley, called for state legislatures across the country to act.

“Thoughts and prayers, they’re comforting, but we need action now,” said Moore, whose sister was killed in the 2015 shooting at the historic black Emanuel AME Church in Charleston. “So, I’m calling on every state legislator across the country to act, because we can’t get federal folks to act.”

State Sen. Marlon Kimpson, a Charleston Democrat and avid proponent of strengthening gun laws — who, with Gregory, has co-sponsored gun legislation, tweeted his condolences Saturday.

“My heart grieves for the victims, their families and the people of El Paso,” Kimpson said. “We will have more information later. Enough talk.”

Monday, Republican Gov. Henry McMaster ordered the flag atop the State House be lowered to half-staff until Thursday.

Emily Bohatch helps cover South Carolina’s government for The State. She also updates The State’s databases. Her accomplishments include winning a Green Eyeshade award in Disaster Reporting in 2018 for her teamwork reporting on Hurricane Irma. She has a degree in Journalism with a minor in Spanish from Ohio University’s E. W. Scripps School of Journalism.
Maayan Schechter (My-yahn Schek-ter) covers the S.C. State House and politics for The State. She grew up in Atlanta, Ga. and graduated from the University of North Carolina-Asheville. She has previously worked at the Aiken Standard and the Greenville News.