Editorial Roundup: South Carolina

Post and Courier. February 12, 2024.

Editorial: SC House should protect public from gun criminals rather than the reverse

Conventional wisdom says you shouldn’t intervene when your opponent is shooting himself in the foot, and we normally think that’s good advice. But what if you can help him aim better?

This week, House Republicans doing the bidding for what The Post and Courier’s Nick Reynolds calls “several obscure hardline gun organizations” are expected to reject the Senate’s version of their misnamed “constitutional carry” gun bill, because those groups have taken a no-compromises position.

Mind you, both the House and the Senate versions of H.3594 do much more harm than good — and the only good they do is through an unrelated anti-crime provision the bill’s authors added in hopes of winning the support of some anti-crime Republican senators who know our state will not be better off if practically everybody is allowed to carry guns in public with no training, no background checks and no permits. The ploy worked — but only after those senators made some extraordinarily modest changes; well, and one grotesquely self-serving change.

The penalty for carrying guns into places where they’re not allowed has never been high, but the version of H.3594 passed by the House reduced it even more. The Senate kept those minor penalties for anyone who chooses to go through the permitting process but went in the other direction for people who decline to get a permit, with harsher criminal penalties if they carry their guns in hospitals, schools or the handful of other places they’re prohibited. Supporters said they hoped this change would encourage more people to get what would become an optional concealable weapons permit, which requires a criminal background check and minimal training in both how to use a gun and where and how people can legally carry or use one.

This was fine with the National Rifle Association, but it outraged the most extremist elements of the gun lobby, which raises the question: What kind of person would object to a law that says you can be punished if you take a gun where it’s banned by state law? And what kind of lawmaker would even accept a phone call from people with such a criminal attitude — much less take orders from them about how to vote?

Of course the Senate also added a provision to the bill that adds legislators to a short list of law-enforcement and court officials who are allowed to carry a gun anywhere they want — including, for instance, the Senate floor. Or the House floor. Which is just crazy.

If legislators think this bill will make our state so dangerous that they need to arm themselves wherever they go, they ought to be voting against it rather than giving themselves special dispensation that almost no one else has to try to protect themselves.

Normally, we would want the House to go along with the Senate version because, the legislators’ special-privileges provision to the contrary notwithstanding, the bill is less bad than the version the House passed. But if representatives and their puppet masters aren’t content to settle for 90% of what they wanted and call it a win, then more power to them.

This no-compromises position is reminiscent of the way the House responded to modest changes the Senate made to a school vouchers bill in 2022 in order to get enough votes to pass it — resulting in the Legislature adjourning that year without passing the bill. It’s reminiscent too of the House’s 2022 reaction to the Senate’s refusal to outlaw nearly all abortions after Roe v. Wade was overturned — which likewise resulted in the Legislature adjourning for the year without passing anything. Unfortunately, House members rethought their positions, and lawmakers passed bills in 2023 that went way too far, but at least their no-compromise positions delayed those laws.

So if you want a temporary reprieve from insanity, contact House members now and urge them to stand tough in opposition to the Senate’s version of a bill that allows nearly everybody in the state to carry guns nearly everywhere they want to, no questions asked.

We do share Gov. Henry McMaster’s concern that because the bill contains the unrelated anti-crime provisions, the House’s action “keeps the ‘revolving door’ for career violent criminals wide open.”

“For over two years law enforcement and victims of crime have been begging this General Assembly to pass a bill with stricter increased penalties for illegal gun use and possession,” Mr. McMaster said in a statement posted to his social medial account. “This is how we keep career criminals behind bars and not out on bond shooting and killing innocent South Carolinians.”

The Legislature’s position on that legislation is shameful. But the way to fix that problem isn’t to give us even a slightly less-bad arm-everyone law. It’s to pass a stand-alone bill that makes it a felony for already-convicted criminals to own guns.

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The Index-Journal. February 8, 2024.

Editorial: Nevada voters spank Haley

”None of these candidates.”

Ouch.

It’s true. Of the choices on Nevada’s Republican presidential primary ballot, Tim Scott, Mike Pence and Nikki Haley got whooped by “none of these candidates.”

Can we say “ouch” again? Yeah.

”None” garnered 63.2% of the votes. Not even close behind was Haley, with 30.5%. Behind our former governor and President Trump’s former U.N. ambassador were two candidates who had already dropped out, Pence with 4% of the votes and Scott with 1.4%.

Again we say “ouch.”

No big surprise that Haley beat the dropouts, but dang! Only a little better than 30% of the GOP votes?

Haley and her campaign just might be glad to know that “none of these candidates” is not a choice on the GOP ballot in her home state.

All we can say as the Palmetto State’s first-in-the-South primary looms large Feb. 24 — and again, no, this is not an endorsement — is that Haley had best hope that her appearance on “Saturday Night Live” this past weekend gives her some momentum.

If not, her next words might be “Dead, from South Carolina, it’s Haley’s bid for the White House!

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