Attendees of local murder vigils speak out on gun violence

CHARLESTON, SC (WCSC) - Two vigils were held Friday evening in the Lowcountry to pay respect to those lost by violent crimes.

There was one in Marion Square to honor the victims of the Sandy Hook elementary school massacre in Connecticut.

It was put on by gun violence awareness groups. The second was in West Ashley for the families and friends of homicide and murder victims.

"People are together as a family," Johns Island resident Janice Carpenter said. "My stepdaughter, my husband's older daughter, was murdered five years ago."

This year has been a record breaking year in North Charleston. There have been more than 30 murders to date.

Some people blame guns for the violent crimes.

"It's time for us to make sure our elected officials know we are holding them accountable for what's happening," Charleston resident Michael Shetler said.

Others like Carpenter believe the person behind the weapon is to blame.

"You really can't outlaw everything that someone could hurt someone with," Carpenter explained. "I think sometimes it's a problem for some people but if someone has evil in their heart, they'll find a way to hurt someone no matter what."

All sides agree, however, that changes need to be made.

"Eighty-four percent of South Carolinians agree that we need universal background checks. People don't agree on much but we agree on that," a woman speaking at the Sandy Hook vigil stated.

North Charleston officials report more than 700 guns have been taken off the streets in 2017.

"We have taken more guns off the street this year than any other year in the history of the city," North Charleston Mayor Keith Summey said.

"It's a way of helping. There are always people who are going to find guns and you can't save everyone but I agree with taking guns people don't need," Shetler said.

Regardless of how the crime takes place, Carpenter said it is important to know that you always have support in the community.

"I don't want anyone to think they're in this by themselves because there are people available that are very willing to help," Carpenter said.

If you or anyone you know is in need of support after a tragedy or loss, the MUSC National Crime Victim Center and the Charleston County Victims Service Office provide care and counseling year-round.

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