Cindi Ross Scoppe

Even after Emanuel, legislators’ love affair with guns knows no bounds

MCT

NEXT TIME someone complains about the government trying to grab our guns, roll your eyes, and remind him that we live in South Carolina. If that doesn’t shut him up, ask him about H.3799.

That’s the bill the House passed 101-5 and the Senate is poised to pass that abandons our standards and lets Georgia residents with zero training on gun safety or gun laws or anything else cross the border into our state with their guns in their belts.

Ask him about H.4398. That’s the bill the House passed 98-5 to make sure that people who file for bankruptcy can’t have their guns taken by creditors. Perhaps so they can shoot anyone who calls them government-protected deadbeats.

Ask him about H.4701. That bill, which passed the House by a much closer 69-27, makes it illegal for state agencies to “enforce any federal law, rule, or regulation that took effect after January 1, 2016, that limits the right of a person to own, possess, or use a firearm, ammunition, or firearm accessories.”

Ask him, for that matter, about The Citadel, which just got bullied into abandoning its internal student-conduct rule that prohibited students from storing guns in their on-campus vehicles.

Then ask him about Dylann Roof and the Charleston Massacre and that background-check loophole that you could drive a truckful of armed Citadel plebes through. The loophole that allowed our homegrown white supremacist to buy the gun he used to slaughter the nine innocents at Emanuel A.M.E. Church, even though he had an arrest that made it a crime to buy a gun. Since the FBI didn’t spot the arrest within 72 hours, he got to buy the gun. And we all know what happened next.

In a lot of states, closing or at least narrowing that loophole would have been a no-brainer. Give police a month, or two weeks, or even just one entire week to make sure there aren’t any convictions or arrests that would make a purchase illegal. It seems like a small inconvenience since the FBI finishes 97 percent of the background checks within three days — but has to retrieve 2,500 guns a year that got sold before the check ultimately determined that the purchaser was barred from buying a gun.

Of course, there are lots of things that would be no-brainers in other states that simply don’t happen in South Carolina.

It would be a no-brainer for a lot of states to respond to Ken Ard and Bobby Harrell and reports that you have one of the most corruption-prone states in the nation by putting some teeth in the ethics law.

It would be a no-brainer for a lot of states to respond to interchanges to nowhere, and roads being widened to five lanes in areas so remote you can take a nap in the middle of them, by reforming the road-selection process.

It would be a no-brainer in a lot of states to respond to police refusal to turn over incriminating police-shooting videos by creating a way to make police turn over those videos — rather than making it even more difficult to see future videos.

It would be a no-brainer for a lot of states to respond to a high school student being dragged out of her desk, tossed across the floor and arrested for refusing to give up her cellphone by changing the law that treats minor school-discipline problems as crimes.

But not in South Carolina. In South Carolina, after years of ignoring them, we might do something about our ethics problems and road problems — although we still might keep ignoring them. In South Carolina, we ignore our police-secrecy problems and our schoolhouse-to-jailhouse pipeline. In South Carolina, the fourth-deadliest state for gun homicides, we respond to the Emanuel massacre by … inviting more people to bring their guns into our state. And inviting more guns onto our college campuses. And, hey, there’s still time for the Senate to pass that bill making it illegal for our police to enforce any new federal gun laws. As if there are going to be any new federal gun laws.

The gun fetishists point to all the anti-gun bills filed since the Charleston massacre — more than 50 by one count — and say that’s proof aplenty that even in South Carolina, their weapons are at risk. This is a favorite tactic by groups that make a living inducing their supporters into a paranoid trance, and it is not limited to the right. Abortion-rights supporters routinely tout the number of anti-abortion bills introduced in state legislatures. Yet even in South Carolina, the vast majority of those bills — like all of the anti-gun bills — die in subcommittee. What do not die in subcommittee are the bills designed to make our state a more welcoming place for guns.

My point is not that we need to pass anti-gun laws — although certainly we need to work on the Dylann Roof loophole. My point is that we are not going to pass any anti-gun laws. Even if some of those pro-gun bills don’t ultimately become law, they all passed the House, and a House that passes those bills while the blood is still warm at Emanuel is not grabbing anyone’s guns.

Ms. Scoppe writes editorials and columns for The State. Reach her at cscoppe@thestate.com or follow her on Twitter @CindiScoppe.

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