This study examines 1970-78 South Carolina firearm fatalities utilizing vital record data. During this period, 5,808 firearm deaths, classified as accident, homicide, suicide, or undetermined, were reported with an average annual fatality rate of 23.35 deaths per 100,000 estimated population. Firearm fatalities in South Carolina were the sixth leading cause of death in 1975 and accounted for 2.9 per cent of all deaths to residents. A significant period decline in the firearm fatality rate was observed and was attributed mainly to decreases in the non-White rate. In 1978, the fatality rate for non-Whites (18.5) fell below the rate for Whites (19.1) for the first time in the years investigated. Firearm deaths represent a major community health problem and, as such, warrant attention and direct involvement by state and local health professionals.