Colorado tragedy stirs gun debate in Lowcountry

(Scott Garrand/WCIV)

By Stefanie

CHARLESTON, S.C. (WCIV) - The Aurora, Colorado shooting is being called the worst U.S. mass shooting in history -- injuring a total of 71 people, 12 of those innocent victims were killed.

After a tragedy like this, the conversation of gun control laws in America makes its way into the national rhetoric, and it's no different here in the Lowcountry.

"First of all the gun didn't do it, the person did it," said Arlyn Pendergast, President of the ATP Gun Store in Summerville. "And two, if the gun control was even laxer there was a good chance that someone could take out their concealed weapon and took him out and saved lots of people."

Gun control laws and the 2nd amendment 'right to bear arms' clause has people on both sides of the debate passionate.

"The only reason there is a first amendment is because there is a second amendment, because without the second amendment our first amendment rights would go away," Pendergast said.

State Representative Wendell Gilliard disagrees.

"We have to have stronger gun control laws in this country whether we like it or not. That's just a fact of life," Gilliard said.

"What do you say when adolescents get a hold of the guns because that to me is guns killing people, what do you say when the drug addicts, people with a deranged mind get a hold of a weapon how do you define that, there is no other way, guns do kill people," Gilliard said.

Representative Gilliard says he caught a lot of heat when he sponsored a bill this year that would have changed South Carolina gun laws by making it a felony, not just a misdemeanor, to carry a concealed weapon without a permit. The bill would have also banned certain assault weapons.

"If we don't do anything about this now then these things will continue, sad to say," Gilliard said.

The bill failed in the house, but Gilliard said he plans to pre-file it to come up again for discussion in the next legislative session in January.

"The stricter the regulations, the more honest people cannot have guns, the more crooks have guns," Aryln Pendergast said. "When guns are outlawed, only outlaws have guns."