NORTH CHARLESTON, S.C. (WCBD) – Doctors are responding to the gun violence problems in the Lowcountry after seeing a significant rise in cases during 2021. They say more funding is needed to help curb the problem.

The Medical University of South Carolina (MUSC) says a third of its gunshot wound victims last year came from North Charleston. It’s a problem MUSC says has plagued the Lowcountry since the onset of COVID-19.

“Gun violence and firearms are the leading cause of death of children in the United States,” says Christa Green, an Injury Prevention Coordinator with MUSC Shawn Jenkins Hospital’s Pediatric Trauma Center.

Of the patients suffering from gunshot wounds arriving at MUSC from North Charleston, doctors say most of them are African-American.

“Young black boys are nine times more likely to die from firearms homicide than their white peers,” says Green.

Keith Smalls, who works with MUSC, says the issue hits home for him
after his son was killed. He’s made it his mission to make a difference through MUSC’s gun violence intervention program targeting those 12 – 30 years old.

“If it’s not been done before, I’m about doing just about anything,” says Smalls. “Losing a son to gun violence was something I never, ever thought would happen to me.”

Local and state leaders recognize the need for help. Among the needs is funding for grassroots organizations with ties to the communities experiencing the biggest spikes.

“To take a deeper dive into that we have to go to the table with these non-profits and decide which ones were going to get behind and fund,” says North Charleston City Councilman Jerome Heyward.

“Between that targeted approach with appropriate levels of funding to match the problem, you really can make a difference,” says Green.

MUSC also saw a 30% increase in gun assaults in 2021. Local elected officials pledged to allocate more funding to the causes during a townhall meeting on Monday.