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StatementCharleston City Paper: Some Lowcountry lawmakers, candidates commit to action on gun violence. Most don’t.

In the wake of the school shooting in Uvalde, Texas, last Tuesday, Charleston City Paper reached out to 34 community and state leaders and candidates via email and Twitter, with one question: “What are you going to do to reduce gun violence?”

In addition to live interviews with S.C. Sen. Chip Campsen, R-Charleston, and S.C. Rep. J.A. Moore, D-Charleston, we received eight answers, including one perturbed message.

The original email, sent Thursday morning, asked for answers to be sent via email by Friday, though responses would be accepted through the weekend. When just two replies were received, we took to Twitter, from which we received another six responses, though S.C. Rep. Leon Stavrinakis’ (D-Charleston) response did not address the question at hand.

“If that’s how you are going to treat people, you can rest assured when I am ready to communicate to the public it won’t be through or in response to City Paper,” he wrote.

Below are excerpts from the responses we received from each legislator, activist and/or candidate, along with some responses taken from surveys given to candidates for the coming primary elections:

S.C. Rep. Joe Bustos (R-Charleston): “Last November, I submitted a Gang Violence and Criminal Enterprise Bill that would strengthen law enforcement and deter those who would violate our laws … Violent crime that has been on the rise for months has not been adequately addressed. The bill I submitted, unfortunately, is still in the Judiciary Committee.”

S.C. Rep. Joe Jefferson (D-Berkeley): “Gun violence has been a major concern for all of us for years. My advice to the voters, comes down to several major decisions when voting for a candidate: Ask yourself the following questions: 1. Why would I vote for a bill that would allow an 18-year-old to carry a gun where it is visibly seen? 2. Why would I not support a bill that would allow anyone the opportunity to purchase a handgun without making sure that he/she is sane enough or responsible enough to protect oneself and others?”

U.S. Senate Democratic candidate Catherine Fleming Bruce: “As a senator, I will declare gun violence a public health state of emergency. I will support requiring background checks, addressing the issue of ghost guns and placing restrictions on assault weapons. I will also support gun restrictions for those with mental health issues or who have been convicted of domestic violence, stalking or sexual harassment (boyfriend loophole), and closing the Charleston loophole.” Bruce is running in the primary to run against GOP U.S. Sen. Tim Scott.

U.S. Senate Democratic candidate Angela Geter: “I would do more than thoughts and prayers. I would actually vote for gun reform. Gun rights are no more absolute than any other rights. Did you ask this question of@LindseyGrahamSC & @votetimscott neither of whom have done much to further the debate on gun reform or gun safety?” Geter also is running in the primary to take on Scott.

S.C. Rep. Wendell G. Gilliard (D-Charleston): “Continue to fight for gun reform laws such as background checks, installing chips in guns, banning assault weapons, installing metal detectors in all schools in S.C., stiffer penalties for selling guns illegally and leaving guns around through pure negligence and for straw purchases.”

S.C. Rep. Spencer Wetmore (D-Charleston): “I have and will continue to sponsor bills and advocate for background checks, closing the Charleston loophole, required training, purchasing age and mental health and community resources. I will work towards a bipartisan bill for the 2023 session.”

S.C. Sen. Marlon Kimpson (D-Charleston): “My record is pretty clear on this. I’m the sponsor of closing the Charleston loophole in the Senate. Support tougher bond requirements for repeat violent offenders. No Republicans voted on gun reform. Work like hell to elect Democrats.”

Read the article from the Charleston City Paper.

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