South Carolina Logic: Get Tough on Gun Crime and Make Sure Everyone Can Carry a Concealed Weapon

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SC gun laws – concealed carry for all as we “crack down on violent crime.” Two bills pending in the SC legislature perfectly illustrate what is wrong with our government.

Are our elected legislators solving problems? Proposing and enacting common-sense gun laws to make our lives better? Running the government in a competent, effective manner?

Of course not. South Carolina’s legislature, like most of America’s government at the federal, state, and local level, is engaging in “culture wars,” trying to score points like it’s a game show, and catering to the lowest common denominator among their constituents.

For example:

  • Engaging in the tried-and-true political theater of “lock ‘em up because I’m tough on gun crimes,” while simultaneously
  • Ensuring that every South Carolinian has the right to carry a concealed gun.

On a very basic, political-calculation-only level, it makes sense. Your Republican base wants you to be a tough guy who don’t take no flack from them criminals, and they also want you to stop those Democrats from taking their guns (whatever that means).

Let’s Get Tough on Gun Crime – Lock ‘Em Up…

Whether we are talking about Hillary Clinton or people accused of crimes, “lock ‘em up” is a refrain we hear from Republicans every election cycle, and being “tough on crime” is guaranteed to get you the votes.

Does it make sense, though? Is it an evidence-based approach to legislation?

Let’s look at the intersection of gun laws and bail reform in SC politics…

Bail Reform in South Carolina

Ordinarily, when we talk about bail reform, we are talking about why the current bail/bond system across the country is unconstitutional. How it benefits the wealthy while punishing the poor. How it allows prosecutors to force guilty pleas from the unfortunate defendants who cannot afford to bond out of jail as they wait for their trial…

If you can afford to pay your bail, you get to go home while you await trial. If you are not wealthy, you get to stay in a cage while you await trial. The current system punishes poor people because they are poor, and there is no way around it.

In South Carolina, when we talk about bail reform, we mean “How can we keep more poor people in our jails.” Even when the jails are overcrowded, and inmates are being abused. Lock ‘em up – if they don’t want to be in jail, they shouldn’t have gotten accused of a crime. Or they should’ve worked harder so they would have money for bail….

Reforming our state’s bond system is among our governor’s “highest priorities,” and

“Before that General Assembly goes home in May, they need to pass bond reform, and they need to see that we slam that revolving door,” the governor said in a press conference in his Statehouse office.

Although there is zero evidence that bail is set too low in South Carolina – apart from individual anecdotes where a person has committed a new offense while on bond, the House, at our governor’s urging, passed a “bond reform” bill that is now pending in the Senate.

The House’s version focused on bail for violent crimes, but the governor wants it to include gun crimes:

The House version only focused on a list of crimes defined as “violent” in the state’s criminal code, despite McMaster’s calls for it to include gun crimes.

[The Senate’s] amendment includes gun crimes and would make bond progressively more expensive for defendants accused of violent crimes and gun crimes as the charges stack up, a change from the House legislation.

The governor doesn’t care that people who are presumed innocent and have not been convicted would be held in jails where inmates are dying and there have been reports of “appalling conditions,” because he is more concerned about guns:

Benevento pointed to the conditions in some county jails where the defendants, all of whom are presumed innocent, would be held.

Jails in North Charleston, Columbia and Spartanburg have been under intense scrutiny in recent months following a string of inmate deaths and reports of appalling conditions.

McMaster said he understood but did not share the concerns about making bail more expensive.

“I’m less worried about overcrowding than I am about people getting killed,” he said.

Is the SC legislature really concerned about South Carolinians getting killed by guns?

SC Gun Laws: Everyone in SC Should be Able to Conceal a Gun if They Want To…

As the SC Senate is considering how to punish SC citizens accused of gun crimes by forcing them to remain in crowded jails, they are also considering a bill that would allow anyone to carry a concealed gun – without a permit or any training in firearm safety.

The SC House has already approved the “constitutional carry” bill, and the Senate is now poised to pass:

  1. A law that increases bail for anyone charged with a gun crime in SC, because legislators are concerned about South Carolinians getting killed by guns, and
  2. A law that lets anyone carry a concealed weapon without a background check or firearms training, because Yee Haw!

Is our legislature doing its job, or are they looking for political points with their “lock ‘em up,” “Second Amendment” base?

Can you logically reconcile these two pieces of legislation?

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