It took New Zealand less than a week to ban assault-style rifles following a deadly slaughter at two mosques. As a comparison, South Carolina and Congress have been doing nothing but dilly-dallying for almost four years since Charleston’s own horrific massacre.
It’s downright embarrassing that we are so hogtied with inaction.
It’s way past time to close the so-called Charleston loophole brought into the limelight in 2015 after South Carolina’s Dylann Roof shot 12 worshippers at Emanuel AME Church in Charleston, killing nine. Roof was able to purchase a gun because a background check took longer than three days. Closing the loophole would require a background check to be completed before the sale of a gun.
This is plain common sense. And tightening a loophole should be much less difficult than banning some weapons completely as New Zealand did.
Yet we fiddle. And more guns get sold to people who shouldn’t have them. According to Time magazine, “4,170 guns were sold to people with criminal records, mental illnesses, and other circumstances which should have prevented them from being able to buy a firearm.” Why did they get them? The loophole.
What’s more infuriating about the whole mess is blame for inaction can be placed squarely on lawmakers — the 170 South Carolina legislators who could do something here or the 535 members of Congress who could deal with it nationally.
A new Winthrop Poll shows overwhelming bipartisan support among South Carolinians for closing the loophole so that people can’t get guns until background checks are finished. Some 80 percent of 1,007 adults, including 80 percent of Republicans, said they favored closing the loophole, the poll said.
“Everyone — Republicans, Democrats, or otherwise — seems to have no problem with ensuring that those checks are fully completed,” said Winthrop pollster Scott Huffmon. “Such a measure ensures law-abiding citizens can still buy guns while there is an extra check on people like the Charleston murderer, who I won’t name, getting a firearm.”
Wake up, South Carolina! Wake up, America! Contact your state legislator, congressman, and senators and tell them to stop fooling around and, at a minimum, to close the loophole to make our state and nation safer.
Legal abortion still has support.
The new Winthrop Poll also sheds light on how South Carolinians view legal abortion.
About this phase of every legislative session, it’s typical for social issues to flare. GOP House members consistently seem to wait until they approve a budget before throwing red meat to their base by going after social issues like abortion. This year in South Carolina and in other legislatures, there’s a new twist on the old abortion debate — a push for a “personhood” bill to establish life at fertilization of an embryo that would ban all abortions.
The Winthrop Poll shows 73 percent of South Carolinians, including 67 percent of Republicans, believe a woman should be able legally to get an abortion if her doctor says the pregnancy is a threat to her health or if the fetus is not viable. Seven in 10 South Carolinians also believe a woman should be able to get an abortion for a pregnancy caused by rape or incest. Four in 10 think abortions should be available for unplanned pregnancies or if a woman doesn’t believe she is ready or able to care for a child.
“This data shows that South Carolinians are not fans of abortion, but recognize certain circumstances when legal abortion may be appropriate,” Huffmon said. “These atti–tudes cut against so-called ‘personhood’ bills which would outlaw all abortion and even several kinds of birth control.”
The Winthrop Poll also showed:
• Trump. More South Carolinians (49 percent) disapproved of how President Donald Trump is handling his job than those who do (42 percent). Some 82 percent of Republicans backed Trump.
• Lawmakers. Only 16 percent of respondents approved of how Congress is handling its job. But four in 10 South Carolinians approved of the S.C. legislature’s job performance.
• Leaders. Half of South Carolinians, including 74 percent of Republicans and 25 percent of Democrats, approved of GOP U.S. Sen. Lindsey Graham’s job performance. GOP U.S. Sen. Tim Scott got a 55 percent approval rating. Just over half approved of GOP Gov. Henry McMaster’s performance.
Andy Brack is editor and publisher of Statehouse Report. Have a comment? Send to:firstname.lastname@example.org.