Holiday time, and neither the anti-abortion nuts nor the guns rights idiots could take time off. Weeks before the start of the South Carolina 2015 legislative session, bills were being pre-filed to make sure they were right in the front of the line to trample on our desire for peace and civil liberty.
As far as gun rights and the NRA are concerned, don't ever think you've heard it all. And, as with the anti-abortion war, any recent victory -- or defeat -- will result in more attacks on more fronts.
Since his not-quite-stunning defeat in the US Senate primary against Lindsey Graham, not-so-bright state senator Lee Bright has redoubled his efforts to be South Carolina's most formidable gun nut. If you recall, in the last legislative session, he attempted to top the "guns and liquor" bill by offering up his "guns everywhere" bill. Supporters of the "Constitutional Carry" bill claim that South Carolina is one of the most restrictive states in terms of allowing folks to tote guns, interpreting the lack of express restrictions in most states to mean that gun-toting is allowed, and not that it should be so obvious that guns aren't allowed that there has been no need for express laws banning them in specific situations. The "Firearms Freedom Act" would have kept South Carolina gun manufacturers and owners safe from all those pesky federal laws.
Neither bill passed, but we can count on Bright to come back energized and ready to take up the mantle once again like a warped Don Quixote. And he has been joined by fellow gun nut, Alan Clemmons, who has proposed a required three week Second Amendment curriculum in all public schools, ending in a Second Amendment Awareness Day, with the festivities closing with a poster/essay contest on "The Right to Bear Arms: One American Right Protecting All Others." That's right, because in the America we all grew up in, it's guns that have protected our freedom of speech and our individual rights. Oh, irony, since it's these same goofballs that are continually attacking individual rights. Maybe if we had weapons, women would be free to have private reproductive health care and gays could marry, anyone could vote and poor people would be given a living wage....
Anyway, obviously, the NRA has its hands all over this one.
But wait! Here are some of the other less-than-delectable tidbits from the gun nuts in our state legislature:
Again, the "constitutional carry" bill, which would change breaking the law from carrying a gun to carrying a gun with intent to commit a crime. So, as long as our police officers can spot a crime before it's committed, we're okay.
And because having all South Carolina residents carrying just isn't enough, there is a bill which would allow reciprocity for citizens from other states. Now, here's the thing about this. South Carolina does not allow reciprocity with other states for licensed professionals. South Carolina does not even allow persons from other states with motor vehicle learners permits to drive with licensed SC drivers. But: "Got a gun? Come on in!"
Last year, gun nuts had a resounding success with passage of the bill that allows guns in restaurants and bars. Because you never know when a gunfight will break out at the saloon, and we should all be ready to defend our honor and our shrimp 'n' grits. If you don't look too closely at the numbers of shootings in and around South Carolina, you might think that hasn't been a problem. And if you like the idea of protecting yourself when you take the family out to dinner, you will love the bill that will allow guns to be carried at any college. Because we'll all rest easier knowing our kids are getting their secondary education in a place where there will never be anyone who is stressed out and unstable and feeling the need to bring a gun to school.
The topping on that deadly cake are bills that would remove the fees for applying for, renewing or replacing one's concealed weapons permit, and of course, allowing it to be used as Voter ID.
To end on a more optimistic note, Democrats Gilda Cobb-Hunter and Mia McLeod have filed H 3034 that would require a person to surrender firearms if the courts have determined that he (or she) presents an imminent danger in a domestic abuse situation, with comparable bill S 3 in the Senate; and H 3033, requiring national criminal background checks. I believe I also saw a bill that would create penalties for adults when a child is endangered by a weapon in the home, but I haven't been able to find it again.
Now this is all very confusing for me, as I am sure it is intended. But I did my best, and apologize for any mistakes. The important thing is that we know these bills are up there, and they are going to move forward as long as we don't oppose them. That's how Georgia ended up with its "guns everywhere" law. Our state restaurant association claims not to have know about the bill allowing guns in bars and restaurants. So it will take more than occasional disgruntlement to fight this tsunami. The gun nuts in our legislature know how to rally the gun nuts in the populace. There really aren't as many of them as there are of us, but, as with the fight for reproductive rights, they are loud and persistent, and we need to keep up, and keep shouting. So find out who your legislators are, and let them know, today, tomorrow, and next week, how you feel about people walking around in our communities with deadly weapons, and how you feel about our children being forced to learn untruths about the Second Amendment.
It's not just a matter of quality of life, it's a matter of life and death.