Horry Co. Democrats host vigil outside Myrtle Beach Gun Show

HORRY COUNTY, SC (WMBF) - South Carolina's largest gun show was held this weekend in Myrtle Beach. With about 200 vendors at this weekend's gun and knife show, the owner of the show tells WMBF News this year was the fourth or fifth largest show yet.

In the wake of the recent deadly school shooting in Parkland, Florida that killed 17 people, and other mass shootings across the nation, the Horry County Democratic Party hosted a vigil outside of the Myrtle Beach Convention Center to speak out for stricter gun laws.

Vietnam War veteran and Horry County Democratic Party's elected chairman, Bennie Swans, explains his message to the public.

"What we want people to understand is that we stand with young people. We stand with law enforcement we know that when there are too many guns on the street, nobody is safe," said Swans.

The Horry County Democratic Party is calling on Palmetto State legislators and the U.S. Congress to enact sensible gun control laws to protect schools and public places from the tragedy of mass shootings.

"Were not trying to take away people's rights for protection, but it's not a sport. When you have a gun that's firing 150 rounds in a short period of time, all that's intended is to kill. We want to see the change," said Rosemary Wolme, member of the Horry County Democratic Party.

The group honored the lives of the 17 victims of the Parkland, Florida school shooting, followed by the 9 victims of the 2015 Charleston church shooting.

Retired Horry County teachers at the event want to make sure not another tragic school shooting happens again in our own backyard and across the nation.

"Something has to change to prevent these people from getting mowed down in our schools. Since the Parkland tragedy, there have been threats across the county and in this area - and it's just a very sad state of affairs," said Ann Taylor, retired Horry County Schools teacher.

Owner of the gun show, Mike Kent, says he respects protesters and that they are just running a lawful and legal business.

"There's a huge gun culture in this country. I mean there's no doubt. That's what this country was founded on - people are coming to basically exert their second amendment rights being around other like-minded people who enjoy guns," said Kent.

Kent says that they have always considered the show a family-friendly event. He says the show is very safe with police officers on duty at all times to make sure nothing gets out of hand.

Kent also says the gun show they hold twice a year in Myrtle Beach is no different from a gun shop in terms of obtaining a firearm.

"We rent tables to vendors. Most of these guys have gun shops or pawn shops or things like that. They come for the weekend to set up. They run the same background checks, the same security, the same everything -  just like they were running a regular gun shop. Everyone comes in here sits down, goes through the paperwork and goes through a background check. If they are clear, then they can purchase the gun and walk out with it," said Kent.

Demonstrators said they plan on continuing to speak out and raise awareness until they see change.

Copyright 2018 WMBF News. All rights reserved.