Following the horrific shootings at Virginia Tech in early April, I sat back and waited for the inevitable half-cocked response to the blood-soaked massacre.
It didn't take long.
On April 24, South Carolina Representative Jeff Duncan (R-Laurens) introduced a bill that would allow a S.C. concealable weapons permit holder to carry a firearm while on the property or premises of a public educational institution. Also, the bill would delete restrictions placed on carrying a concealable weapon into a school or college with regards to the issuance of a concealable weapons permit.
Duncan is of an extremely dangerous and pervasive mind set (especially 'round these parts) that has concluded that more guns are the answer to just about any of society's ills.
Duncan believes that the Virginia Tech tragedy could have been avoided or at least mitigated had there been armed people in the classrooms that fateful day. "He walked into that building without anyone having the ability to stop him. That guy was fairly certain no one on that campus other than security had firearms and could protect themselves."
While I have no problem with the essential truth of Duncan's statement, I do have serious issues with his implications. Namely, that we as Americans are under siege and gun-toting loners with mental illness are confined to the US of A.
I didn't hear him say one word about school shooters being predominantly white middle-class suburbanites.
Last Wednesday, the S.C. House Judiciary Committee heard testimony on Duncan's bill. Kathy Maness, president of the Palmetto State Teachers Association, testified, "I just don't think it's safe to have guns in schools. What if we have a student who is going off the deep end and they get that gun."
Uh, we already have students who do that now with guns brought from home. Hello... The University of Texas at Austin in 1966, Columbine High School in 1999, and Virginia Tech in April (third at a university worldwide this school year alone).
Howard Cook, police chief of Columbia College and president of the S.C. Campus Law Enforcement Association, said that most concealable weapons permit holders aren't trained to deal with a high-stress situation such as what happened at Virginia Tech and they practice by "shooting at paper targets in optimal conditions."
Cook has an extremely valid point. I mean, do you as a permit holder remove your trigger lock and waste the evildoer as he sprays bullets all about you before or after you finish crapping your pants?
As it is in South Carolina, a permit seeker must be 18 years of age, complete eight hours of handgun training and be subjected to a criminal and mental health background check.
Currently 53,150-plus South Carolinians hold these permits and they're not the folks who worry me because they're obeying the law.
S.C. Rep. Jim Merrill (R-Chas), a co-sponsor of Duncan's bill, doesn't think it will pass this session but told The State it might be more palatable to the General Assembly if bringing handguns to school were confined to faculty and administration, "The students — that might be a little more than folks can stomach."
You know, I heard some politicians let loose some doozies over the years, but that had to be one of the dumbest things I've ever heard, period. Handguns have one function and one function only — to kill people.
Here in The Southland, hunting is an avocation and I have no issues with that, but I don't know anyone who hunts with a .357 Magnum.
America has a historical peculiarity and particularity about personal firearms and I think that the unfamiliarity of this history by the short attention-spanned citizens of this country makes them a sitting duck for the reactionary politics of self-absorption proposed by folks like Rep. Duncan.
The late historian Arthur M. Schlesinger Jr. wrote, "Problems will always torment us because all important problems are insoluble: that is why they are important. The good comes from the continuing struggle to try and solve them, not from the vain hope of their solution."