Where do we even begin?
As the new chair of the Spartanburg County Democratic Party, I am penning this today from a place of deep belief that this community, like many communities, wants what is best for one another, for our community members of color, for our children, for each other.
And while we may disagree politically on some things, when it comes to protecting the people we love, 80-90% of us agree that violence by firearms—the number one cause of death in youth—would be reduced if we passed key legislation around guns.
In the midst of crafting a statement about the Buffalo massacre I quickly had to pivot to the atrocity that happened in Uvalde.
Just last year, all six of South Carolina’s Republican Representatives voted against the Bipartisan Background Checks Act, which would mandate background checks before gun sales. Each one of them needs to answer why.
10 victims — Roberta A. Drury, Margus D. Morrison, Andre Mackneil, Aaron Salter, Geraldine Talley, Celestine Chaney, Heyward Patterson, Katherine Massey, Pearl Young, Ruth Whitfield murdered in Buffalo at Tops Supermarket. This is a hate crime. But in the state of South Carolina it wouldn’t be charged as such because our legislature refused to pass the Clementa Pinckney Hate Crime Bill 3620, making us one of only two states in the nation to not have a law condemning hate crimes, even after the 2015 massacre at Emanuel AME Church in Charleston.
21 victims - Alexandria Aniyah Rubio, Alithia Ramirez, Amerie Jo Garza, Annabell Guadalupe Rodriguez, Eliana “Ellie” Garcia, Eva Mireles, Eliahana Cruz Torres, Irma Garcia, Jackie Cazares, Jailah Silguero, Jayce Luevanos, Jose Flores, Layla Salazar, Maite Rodriguez, Makenna Lee Elrod, Miranda Mathis, Nevaeh Bravo, Rojelio Torres, Tess Marie Mata, Uziyah Garcia, Xavier Javier Lopez, murdered at Uvalde Elementary School in Texas.
On June 6th I will start my 40th trip around the sun. And I have had the distinct pleasure of living a very enriched life that began in Spartanburg in 1982, took me to NYC in 2000, and brought me back here five years ago.
On April 20, 1999 students and educators were gunned down at Columbine High School in Colorado, six months before I left for college in New York. Since then, I have lived through Columbine, Sandy Hook, Aurora, Parkland, Pulse Nightclub, Charleston AME, Buffalo, Uvalde, and the list goes on.
In 2012, I was the Marketing Director for Sesame Street when the Sandy Hook massacre occurred, and we sent our muppets to Connecticut (a short trip from our HQ in New York) to comfort the students, educators and families just days after the incident. When our team on the ground came back they were fundamentally changed by what they had experienced. And that was just the aftermath.
The Investigative Assistance for Violent Crimes Act of 2012, signed into law in January 2013, defines a mass killing as one resulting in at least three victims, excluding the perpetrator.
By the end of 2019 there were 417 mass shootings, by the end of 2020, there had been 611, and by the end of 2021, 693, according to the Gun Violence Archive. By mid-May 2021 there were 10 mass shootings a week on average; by mid-May 2022, there was a total of 198 mass shootings in the first 19 weeks of the year, which represents 11 mass shootings a week.
The need for our lawmakers to listen to survivors and those directly impacted, which is a number growing everyday…is so great. Over 3400 kids were killed by guns in 2020, surpassing car crashes as the #1 cause of death for the first time.
Background checks and a ban on high capacity magazines are the bare minimum to protect every day people from open massacre in the event of an active shooter. It’s literally the least we can do.
These pieces of legislation have been on the table but none have passed:
A House-passed bill, HR 1446, backed by Democratic Rep. Jim Clyburn of South Carolina, would close what's known as the "Charleston loophole," which allows some licensed gun sales to go through before a required background check is done.
Specifically, the legislation would increase the amount of time, from three business days to a minimum of 10 business days, that a federal firearms licensee must wait to receive a completed background check prior to transferring a firearm to an unlicensed person.
Even bills with bipartisan support can't pass the Senate. Another bill, HR 8, the Bipartisan Background Checks Act of 2021, would expand background checks for all firearm sales or transfers in the country. Currently, background checks are not required for gun sales and transfers by unlicensed and private sellers.
These bills have failed because our elected officials are being held hostage by the gun lobby that funds their reelection campaigns. They value staying in power over saving children’s lives, and we are in turn being held hostage by our elected officials.
If our representatives won't pass legislation that Americans resoundingly agree on, then we must remove them from office. You have two chances to exercise that right in 2022.
Vote early from May 31-June 10 at the County Administration Building.
Get out the vote on June 14 and come back and do it again in November. Check your precinct location at vote411.org.
Join me at Stump the Yard on June 6th at the FR8yard to hear from Republican and Democratic Candidates running in the June 14th Primaries.
Join the Spartanburg County Democratic Party for our monthly meeting on June 8th at TK Gregg Community Center.
Call and email your senator and representative today.
South Carolina US Senators:
Lindsey Graham, 202 224 5972
Tim Scott, 202 224 6121
US Representative, SC 4th District
William Timmons 202 225 6030
You can find your representative at www.house.gov.
Community Member & Spartanburg County Democratic Party Chair