COLUMBIA, SC (WSPA) – With one month before the end of this year’s legislative session, South Carolina Governor Henry McMaster is urging lawmakers to pass bond reform legislation and enhanced penalties for illegal gun possession.

“It’s clearly now the time to act in South Carolina,” Gov. McMaster said.

The governor was joined by South Carolina State Law Enforcement Division (SLED) Chief Mark Keel and Isle of Palms Police Department Chief Kevin Cornett for a news conference Tuesday morning.

Chief Keel said the cycle of violence in South Carolina must stop. He said he is concerned about the increasing number of murders and young people with guns in the state.

Keel said gangs, drugs, and criminals’ easy access to guns play a significant role in the gun violence in the state.

“The shooting that occurred on the Isle of Palms on Friday afternoon and others like it should never be acceptable, Chief Keel went on to say, “Unfortunately, we have become all too familiar with the deadly impact of young people and repeat offenders with guns.”

Chief Cornett said law enforcement continue to investigate last week’s shooting on Isle of Palms. He said one of the two people arrested following the incident had a stolen firearm.

“If we want to stop this and make our community safe. This is our chance. This is our opportunity. We need to seize this chance and take this fight to the criminals and make them accountable for those crimes,” he said.

According to SLED data, there were more than 9,700 weapons law violations reported in 2021.

“Let’s make the penalties graduate up so they are effective,” Governor McMaster said. “If it’s the second, third time they committed a crime with an illegal gun. The penalty needs to be enhanced.”

A Senate bill that would enhance penalties for illegal gun possession is in committee. A House bill that would reform the state’s bond system is currently up for debate on the Senate floor.