Just 10 days ago an angry former student opened fire with an AR-15 assault rifle and mowed down 17 people at a high school in Parkland, FL. Today, the owner of a gun show that will open in Myrtle Beach, SC, tomorrow said it was "business as usual."
In fact, because of the shooting in Florida and the resultant publicity, show owner Mike Kent expects a record crowd at the show this weekend.
Here's what he told local TV reporter Erin Edwards of WMBF News:
“People do tend to think sometimes that maybe legislations fourth coming will take away their rights so they do tend to come out to gun shows. We’ve been doing this for a long, long time and we’ve weathered a number of shootings of various types, and it’s not a situation that we feel would cause any good or any bad if we canceled our show. we’ve got long term contracts with our buildings throughout the south and we’ve never had to cancel a show in 25 years. It’s business as usual with us.”
That may be. Just like the rest of the gun industry that profits from death, the gun shows are no exception. Business as usual. No matter that people will be showing up, buying AR-15s and other such weaponry without proper background checks, without any meaningful controls. No matter that some of those guns may end up being used in a crime, or perhaps even in another school or mall or concert massacre.
The Horry County, SC, Democratic Party (HCDP) will hold a “Gun Sense Memorial Vigil and Demonstration” at the Myrtle Beach Convention Center from 3 p.m. to 5 p.m. on Sunday. I do communications work for HCDP, I just want to disclose that fact.
Bennie Swans, HCDP chair, says Sunday’s event will not be a protest, but a vigil.
“I’m a veteran. I carry the scars with me today from gunshot wounds from Vietnam. I’ve seen the effects of automatic assault rifle weapons. I don’t think that there’s a need for that," he said. "I don’t want to step on the second amendment. I think that people should have rights, but let’s not get carried away. Let’s not get ridiculous. Let us not place the lives of our law enforcement and children in continual jeopardy.”
That vigil, no doubt, will but one of many as the #NeverAgain movement gains steam all across the country, led by students who saw their friends and a teacher slaughtered that day in Parkland, Fl. Hopefully, their determination, their energy, their emotion will move lawmakers (adults) to take steps to help make their schools safe.
Today, Florida Gov. Rick Scott joined a growing list of Republican lawmakers to endorse raising the minimum age for purchasing rifles to 21 years old, marking his first major break from the policy priorities of the National Rifle Association.
The GOP leadership of the Florida House and Senate quickly stood with Scott in backing a broad package of legislative initiatives, including additional school-security funding and a new process to take guns out of the hands of those deemed to pose a danger.
President Trump, after meeting with students and relatives of victims of gun violence agreed to support raising the age from 18 to 21 for purchasing such weapons. He predicted the National Rifle Association would agree. But the NRA said NO.
So the #NeverAgain movement is already making an impact. But much more needs to be done.
We can't let this be business as usual.