Two disturbing SC shootings have a common thread

OPINION AND COMMENT

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South Carolina set a new record with 571 murders in 2020, a 25% increase from 2019. It was the highest number of murders in a single year since records began being kept in 1960. But sometimes incidents that are not included in the lists as despicable as more is said about the state of affairs. Murder is only the last step in a long societal process.

About an hour and a half after my 17-year-old daughter left work, one of her colleagues at the Hollywood Wax Museum in Myrtle Beach was shot. As I was trying to figure out what to say or think about this, I came across a video of a shooting at a Dixie Youth League baseball game in Charleston.

While the details remain muddled, a visitor reportedly brought a gun inside the wax museum’s zombie apocalypse section and was surprised – surprised by the design, given that he had knowingly entered a haunted house. He dropped the gun, which was picked up by someone else who thought it was a prop and shot one of the “zombies” in the arm. No one was hit during the baseball game in Charleston, although video of the incident captured the sound of several rapid gunfire near the field. Parents and children scrambled, some falling to the ground, others running, others performing the kind of belly crawling they practiced during active shooting drills at school.

No one died. None of them will be listed as homicide victims when the 2022 totals are tallied. That doesn’t mean there won’t be lifelong psychic scars that will manifest differently in each of those who were unfortunately near flying bullets. I can’t tell you how parents and young baseball players are doing since that shooting. But I know the ripple effects of what happened inside the Myrtle Beach Wax Museum are still being felt.

Employees had to rethink whether they would feel safe enough to work there again. Their bosses had to scramble to figure out when it would be okay to reopen and how long and under what circumstances and how they should step in to help employees in ways they hadn’t needed before. It wasn’t because they were targeted by a deranged shooter like a Dylann Roof. It is because of its banality. They were just doing their job and because of lax gun laws and an overly permissive gun culture, someone had the bright idea to bring in a loaded gun at a goofy time.

Wax museum workers know, as do other workers in the area, that although the tourist season hasn’t officially started, large rowdy crowds have started showing up. Myrtle Beach can expect to see perhaps 20 million visitors this year, strangers they can’t be sure won’t make the same choice as the wax museum shooter. This is in addition to locals who might be more adamant about their “right” to carry guns in more places, more often, hidden or not.

In Charleston, the shooting near the baseball game reportedly started after a heated argument. Instead of resolving their conflict with swear words, or even fists, those involved believed that pulling out guns was the wisest choice. In Myrtle Beach, a wax museum worker was shot because someone decided he needed a gun while dodging low-wage workers dressed as zombies. Until we recognize the dividing line between these incidents – the proliferation of guns, which for the first time in 2020 became the leading cause of child and adolescent death – we should expect that such madness continues to repeat itself in ways we can anticipate and in ways we often will not.

Issac Bailey is a McClatchy opinion writer based in Myrtle Beach.

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