Every time we use the phrase “gun violence,” we find ourselves taking flak.

We hear the same argument for why we are in error: The firearm can’t be blamed for a projectile leaving its muzzle, traveling 2,500 feet per second toward someone and ending a life. The gun, after all, can’t pull its own trigger.

We’ve also heard the presumption that we’re tying guns to violence out of a desire to support gun control measures. I don’t recall having seen any allegations that we take our marching orders on this from George Soros — like he’s ever heard of the Index-Journal or Greenwood, South Carolina — but no one here would be surprised by such an accusation.

In reality, however, guns are an important part of this equation.

Have you ever heard of a home riddled with knives in a drive-by stabbing? What about victims being fatally bludgeoned by a stray fist?

Firing from moving vehicles offers a distance and even anonymity that assailants don’t get from close-quarter attacks while increasing the chance that some bystander or unintended target is harmed. In other words, the way guns are being used makes it difficult for investigators to solve crimes and increases the danger for anyone nearby.

That makes it impossible to understand the troubling, violent episodes we’re seeing in Greenwood — especially the rash of unsolved slayings — without mentioning guns. Trying to do so would be irresponsible.

We’re not blaming the guns. There are very real people behind those weapons who’ve chosen to injure and kill others, and we hope those individuals are identified and brought to justice for the sake of their victims and the families of the victims.

Let’s not forget that the guns used to terrorize Greenwood’s neighborhoods often aren’t legally obtained. Some use pinched pistols to spread fear and havoc on the streets. Others use black market buys to pepper a neighborhood with bullets.

Owners of illicit firearms are immune from gun bans, background checks and red-flag laws because their weapons aren’t obtained through legal means. Such legislation seems unlikely to stem the tide of illegal guns on the streets of Greenwood.

Lawmen, however, have taken a more active role in targeting illicit guns in an effort to curb violence and because they are, well, illegal. Last year, law enforcement announced seizing nearly 400 illicit guns in the span of a year. Of course, if guns weren’t part of the equation, this wouldn’t matter.

If you’re a lawful gun owner, you can help in this effort, too. Keep your guns secure. Don’t leave firearms in unlocked cars. Don’t advertise your weapons, and don’t allow access to your arms to those who’d use them for harm. Most of you are already doing your part.

Of course, this is just a piece to this overall puzzle that includes multi-generational poverty, neighborhood and cross-town rivalries, and a virulent culture that reveres violence and cheapens life, just to name a few.

Arrests themselves won’t stop gun violence from happening. We do, however, want to see justice in the shootings that afflict our city, especially when it comes to the unsolved slayings we’ve seen in Greenwood. If you know who killed Quatavious Freeman, Tadarrius Robinson, Cody Hawkins or Zykevious Ramsey, please tell investigators so their families can get some degree of closure.

Robinson’s death is being investigated by the Greenwood County Sheriff’s Office, which can be reached at 864-942-8632. For tips about the three other slayings, call Greenwood police at 864-942-8407, send the department’s Facebook page a message or use the anonymous online tip form at cityofgreenwoodsc.com/departments/police/submit-an-anonymous-tip.

You can also leave your tip for law enforcement in these and other cases by calling CrimeStoppers at 888-CRIME-SC.

Contact Assistant Editor Matthew Hensley at 864-943-2529 or on Twitter @IJMattHensley.