Governor McMaster and officials urge lawmakers to increase illegal gun possession penalties, pass bond reform

Isle of Palms Chief Kevin Cornett and SLED's Chief Mark Keel joined the governor to push for new legislation.

COLUMBIA, SC (WOLO) — After six people were shot on an Isle of Palms beach this past Friday, Governor Henry McMaster, Isle of Palms Chief Kevin Cornett, and SLED’s Chief Mark Keel are urging the South Carolina General Assembly to take action.

“So before the General Assembly goes home in May, they need to pass bond reform and they need to see that we slam that revolving door, and have graduated penalties for committing these crimes with these illegal guns,” says Governor McMaster.

Regarding bond reform, McMaster says the General Assembly should take action to enhance penalties for subsequent illegal gun possession charges including no bond, no release, and no parole.

“What do you tell the family of someone who has been caught, arrested, put in jail once, twice, three times? And then shows up and kills your loved one? What do you tell them?” asks McMaster.

Chief Keel believes laws must hold violent repeat offenders accountable while they’re out on bond.

“All too often, law enforcement officers make good arrests. Only to find the offender received a low bond and are out terrorizing the same community they came from the next morning. This must stop,” says Keel.

According to Keel, of the 566 murders in South Carolina in 2021,  322 of those were committed by people under the age of 25. Fifty-nine of those were committed by people under the age of 18.

“This cycle of violence we’re experiencing in SC and across the nation must stop,” says Keel.

Isle of Palms Chief of Police Kevin Cornett believes this is the General Assembly’s chance to make communities safer.

“This is our opportunity. We need to seize this chance, and we need to make sure we take the fight to the criminals and make sure they answer for the crimes they are committing, and hold them accountable for those crimes,” says Cornett.

According to Governor McMaster approximately 20% of criminals commit about 80% of documented crimes.

The General Assembly is set to adjourn the second Thursday in May.

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