A Time for Action
On October 1st, 64-year-old Stephen Paddock prepared an arsenal of 23 weapons, high-capacity magazines and countless rounds of ammunition, placed the “Do Not Disturb” sign on the door of his 32nd floor suite at the Las Vegas Mandalay Bay hotel, then went to the window overlooking the Route 91 Harvest music festival where some 22,000 concertgoers had gathered and opened fire.
Over roughly ten minutes, aided by the use of legally purchased bump stocks, he fired hundreds of rounds into the crowd, killing 58 people and wounding 546 before turning the gun on himself in the single deadliest mass shooting in American history.
It’s been 45 days since Las Vegas and while our nation has once more plunged into the same old gun debate with the same old talking points and the same old outrage, one question has repeated itself over and over in my head: How can we help?
I have a real and healthy respect for rights guaranteed by the Second Amendment to the U.S. Constitution and have no interest in demonizing gun owners. As Director of South Carolina’s second largest law enforcement agency, I carried a firearm while serving warrants with my officers, and I own several to this day.
I believe in responsible gun ownership, and I believe in common sense. That’s why I’ve decided to do what our federal and state governments are either unable or unwilling to do. I’ve decided to act by introducing a city ordinance to ban the use of “bump stocks” and “trigger cranks” in the City of Columbia.
The simple fact is that automatic weapons have been illegal in this country for more than 30 years, and the only purpose these devices serve is to circumvent that law multiplying firing rates tenfold to approximately 400-800 rounds per minute and turning a semi-automatic firearm into a mass murder machine.
This is wrong in every sense.
This is not the first time we’ve taken the lead on issues vital to public safety.
Whether it’s banning texting while driving, cracking down on “bath salts” or issuing body cameras to all of our police officers, we have consistently stepped forward to meet the challenges before us when others have failed to act.
This is not the first time we’ve taken the lead, but it may be the most important.
I hope you’ll join us.
Mayor Steve Benjamin