10 States Most Dependent On the Gun Industry- A Bang for Your Buck

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12 Hours Ago    

WalletHub focused on three key facets: presence of the firearm industry, gun prevalence in the state and gun politics.

While New Hampshire ranks highest for the number of firearms-industry jobs per capita — seven times more than the District of Columbia — it is Idaho that relies most heavily on the gun industry for jobs and political contributions, according to the report.

Firearms and ammunitions contributed an estimated $43 billion to the economy in 2014, according to the National Shooting Sports Foundation. That figure includes more than 263,000 gun industry jobs that paid more than $13.7 billion in total wages.

Here are the states most dependent on the gun industry:

  1. Idaho
  2. Alaska
  3. Montana
  4. South Dakota
  5. Arkansas
  6. Wyoming
  7. New Hampshire
  8. Minnesota
  9. Kentucky
  10. Alabama

 

The states with the highest gun ownership are Alaska, Arkansas and Idaho, while the states with the lowest gun ownership are Delaware, Rhode Island and New York.

“State and local laws can be and are effective, as for example in New York State, where 85-90 percent of guns recovered in crimes come from out of state, thanks to New York’s tough gun laws,” Robert Spitzer, the chair of the department of political science at State University of New York at Cortland, said in a statement.

“There is also a direct line correlation between the strictness of states’ gun laws and overall gun deaths and gun violence, with states having the strictest laws having the lowest rates, and the reverse for states with lax laws.”

Here are the states that are the least dependent on the gun industry:

  1. Delaware
  2. Rhode Island
  3. New Jersey
  4. New York
  5. Maryland
  6. California
  7. Michigan
  8. Maine
  9. Hawaii
  10. Washington

Senate’s Latest Version of Ethics Reform

sc senate

Posted by South Carolina Policy Council on Tuesday, February 2, 2016

 

DANGEROUS ‘ELECTIONEERING’ PROVISION SCRAPPED, BUT LEGISLATION STILL CONSISTS MAINLY OF REGRESSIVE NON-REFORMS

The Senate Judiciary Committee has just passed another omnibus ethics bill, H.3184. The bill has a tortured history, having been completely rewritten several times. The amended bill is not yet available to the public (this is the case with more and more legislation, incidentally). But we think, based on what was said at the committee meeting, that most of the bill’s content is identical or nearly identical to a previous ethics bill. Our analysis of H.3184 is below.

One caveat, however. Recent manifestations of this bill have contained a provision that would define “electioneering” in such a way as to put a chill on criticism of state lawmakers. We’ve contended strongly that this provision is flatly unconstitutional. At Tuesday’s Judiciary meeting, lawmakers opted to leave that provision out, with at least one member calling it a “poison pill.”

Overall analysis: thumbs down

Despite the absence of that egregious electioneering provision, the bill as a whole isn’t just weak but regressive. As it stands now (and as we understand the text to be), H.3184 would

  • not achieve truly independent investigation and enforcement of ethics laws.
  • legalize the practice of lawmakers receiving de facto permission from House and Senate ethics committees to engage in ethically doubtful activities.
  • require recusal for only some decisions in which the lawmaker has a personal interest.
  • require the disclosure of some private income, but with wide loopholes.
  • loosen the requirements on public income.

Two major problems are worth mentioning in detail. Its supporters claim it ends the practice of legislative self-policing and that it brings more transparency to potential conflicts of interest. It does neither.

Legislative self-policing: cosmetic change

Would this bill put legislators under the State Ethics Commission? Sure, but not without giving the legislature greater control over the Commission – which defeats the point.

It would reconstitute the Ethics Commission to eight members, with four members appointed by the governor (only two of whom may be from the same party as the governor), two members appointed by the Senate (one from the majority caucus and one from the minority caucus), and two appointed by the House (one from the majority caucus and one from the minority caucus). All of these appointments must be done with the advice and consent of the General Assembly.

At first this may seem reasonable, given that the current commissioners serve upon the advice and consent of the General Assembly. However, this bill would allow the legislature to make four appointments to the commission withoutthe oversight they exercise over the gubernatorial appointments – meaning that not only will they advise and consent on four of the appointments, but they will also make four additional appointments to the commission without any check at all.

Similar to S.1, this bill would limit the documents that can be released after a finding of probable cause. The complaint itself, a response by the subject of the complaint, and the notice of hearing – these are the only documents the public would have access to even after the committee finds probable cause. It also limits documents subject to disclosure after the final order is issued to the order itself and all exhibits introduced at the hearing.

Further ensuring that the bill won’t involve serious reform, several provisions allow the legislative ethics committees to review the commission’s findings as it pertains to complaints against lawmakers; and it allows those committees to overrule the Ethics Commission regardless of whether the Commission has found probable cause. This would allow the complaint to be dismissed and all related documents to remain confidential. That sounds like a lot of things – “independent investigation and enforcement” isn’t one of them.

Income disclosure: one step forward, two steps back

Not only would the bill preserve the status quo; it actually makes current law worse. The bill does require a higher level of private income disclosure, but it removes disclosure requirements on government income.

Currently elected officials are required to report the money they earn from government contracts in their statement of economic interests, or SEI, including the amounts earned. H.3184 would free officials from even that modest provision by requiring only the disclosure of direct payments to the business or individual who holds the contract. So, for instance, if a lawmaker makes large amounts of money by winning cases before the (state) Workers’ Compensation Commission, he would only have to disclose that his firm earns the money, not that he does.

The bill would provide an exemption for reporting private income, too. In addition to exemptions for income from court orders and brokerage accounts, the bill specifically exempts income received from consulting with lobbyist principles as long as they are paid at fair market value (see 8-13-1120)(11).

The bill now heads to the Senate floor.

The Great Democratic Age Gap-The Deal Breaker the Black Vote

bernie and kids

by RONALD BROWNSTEIN

Young voters in Iowa favored Sanders by a margin of six to one, while older voters went overwhelmingly for Clinton—revealing a party split along generational lines.

 

Bernie Sanders answered two important questions with his strong showing in Iowa. But, despite his impressive finish, he’ll need to answer two more to truly threaten Hillary Clinton for the Democratic presidential nomination.

The most powerful lesson from the Iowa caucus results is that Democrats are facing not just a generation gap, but a Grand Canyon-sized chasm. As I wrote this week, age has emerged as the single most important dividing line in the struggle between Sanders and Clinton.

In the Iowa entrance poll (which questions voters on the way into a caucus, rather than on their way out the door, like “exit polls” in primaries) Sanders amassed astounding margins among young people. He crushed Clinton by an almost unimaginable six to one—84 percent to 14 percent—among voters younger than 30. For those tempted to dismiss that as just a campus craze, he also routed her by 58 percent to 37 percent among those aged 30 to 44.

But Clinton’s margins were almost as impressive among older voters: she beat Sanders 58 percent to 35 percent among those aged 45-64, and by 69 percent to 26 percent among seniors.

That’s an even wider age gap than Iowa produced in the 2008 contest between Clinton and Barack Obama. In that Iowa caucus, Clinton also was routed among younger voters, but Obama stayed more competitive than Sanders did among those older than 45. On both sides, John Edwards, as a strong third contender, also somewhat muted the contrasts. In 2008, Clinton ran 34 percentage points better among seniors than with those under 30; this week, the gap was 55 points.
Obama beat Clinton by 20 percentage points among voters younger than 30, while she beat him by 25 points among voters older than 65, according to a cumulative analysis of the results of all the exit polls in the 2008 Democratic primary conducted by ABC pollster Gary Langer. Voters in the middle-aged groups divided more narrowly: Obama carried those aged 30-44 by 11 points, and Clinton carried the near retirement generation (45 to 64) by seven, according to Langer’s analysis.

But when it comes to piling up votes, one of these demographic advantages is much more useful than the other. Across all of the 2008 contests, according to Langer’s calculations, voters older than 45 cast fully 61 percent of Democratic votes, while those younger than 45 cast 39 percent. That’s an advantage for Clinton. And it’s a slightly worrisome note for Sanders—a cloud passing on an otherwise sunny day—that young voters cast a slightly smaller share of the total Iowa Democratic vote in 2016 than 2008.

Still, Sanders’s overwhelming margins among Iowa’s younger voters—which exceeded even Obama’s 2008 showing—affirmatively answered the first critical question for the Vermont senator’s campaign: Would the connection with young voters evident at his rallies translate to the ballot box?

The second question that Iowa answered is whether Sanders could become more than just what I’ve termed a “wine track” candidate. Sanders started the 2016 race fitting the profile of brainy Democratic contenders from Eugene McCarthy to Gary Hart to Paul Tsongas to Bill Bradley, who relied mostly on support from younger voters and upscale white liberals. All of them lost to rivals who mobilized the competing “beer track” coalition of blue-collar whites and minorities. Obama represented a variation on the theme: He married the backing of those upscale whites with support from African Americans. That allowed him to narrowly beat Clinton’s modified “beer track” coalition of working-class whites and Hispanics.

In Iowa, Sanders did very well with the wine-track constituencies. Besides his overwhelming showing among younger voters, he stayed close to Clinton among college-educated whites: He carried college-educated white men by 12 percentage points and lost college-educated white women by the same margin. In Iowa, in fact, both college-educated white men and women divided almost exactly as they did in the cumulative results between Clinton and Obama in 2008.
But in Iowa, Sanders expanded beyond that beachhead to run evenly with Clinton among non-college whites. If that pattern persists, it would represent a huge change in the Democratic landscape. In 2008, across all the exit polls, Clinton dominated Obama among non-college white women (carrying 66 percent of them) and non-college white men (56 percent). But in Iowa, Sanders narrowly carried those blue-collar white men and held down his losses among the blue-collar white women: Clinton only carried just over half of them.

Class and age shaped the gender gap in Iowa. That gap was modest: Clinton last night won 50 percent of women and 44 percent of men. That almost exactly matched her total in the cumulative 2008 results against Obama, when gender was also somewhat muted: In that race Clinton carried 52 percent of women and 43 percent of men.

Clinton benefits from that pattern because women cast most of the Democratic votes (57 percent in all the primaries last time, the same number as in Iowa last night). And her overall advantage among women could rise as African American women, who usually vote more heavily than black men, weigh in. But in Iowa, Sanders signaled he could remain competitive enough among women (particularly younger woman) to prevent Clinton’s advantage there from becoming insurmountable.

It’s yet to be seen whether Clinton’s performance with blue-collar whites eroded because those voters are responding to Sanders’s full-throated economic populism—or simply because she’s not running again against an African American with an Ivy League pedigree. But, either way, if Sanders can sustain the competitive showing among blue-collar whites he displayed in Iowa, he can contest metal-bending Rust Belt states (like Ohio, Michigan, and Wisconsin) that previous wine-track candidates could only rarely threaten.

But to win those states—and the other big racially-diverse states that will almost certainly decide the Democratic race—Sanders must answer two other questions Iowa did not resolve.

african-american-voting

 

The first is whether he can win minority voters. Minorities comprised only 9 percent of the voters in Iowa last night (up just slightly from 2008), but they will likely cast between 35 to 40 percent of the total vote in the 2016 Democratic primaries. As I noted on Monday, minorities are especially plentiful in the big states that will award the most delegates, including New York (where minorities cast just under one-third of the 2008 vote), Florida (about one-third), Virginia and New Jersey (about two-fifths), Illinois (over two-fifths) California (nearly half) and Georgia and Texas (over half).

The sample in Iowa was small, but Sanders won only about one-third of non-white voters there, compared to about three-fifths for Clinton. She polls even better among minorities in most national surveys. The next contest in New Hampshire, whose Democratic electorate in 2008 was 95 percent white, won’t provide much guidance on whether Sanders can shatter that wall. The real signals will come later in February from Nevada (where Hispanics and blacks each cast about one-sixth of the 2008 vote) and South Carolina (where African Americans cast a 55 percent majority of the 2008 vote).

Because of Clinton’s continued strength with white women, Sanders almost certainly can’t amass margins large enough among all whites to win big states if he can’t make further gains among minorities. Sanders’s campaign sees more opportunities with Hispanics than African Americans. But from whatever camp they’re drawn, winning more minorities in the big states looming on the calendar is the first key test of whether Sanders can truly threaten Clinton.

The second is whether he can win more Democrats. Sanders won over two-thirds of independents who participated in the Iowa caucus. But even amid his otherwise strong performance, he lost Democrats by a resounding 56 percent to 39 percent. Compared to Obama in Iowa in 2008, Sanders enjoyed a wider margin among independents, but fared much more poorly among Democrats: Obama and Clinton split them about evenly eight years ago.

This profile won’t hurt Sanders in New Hampshire, where independents (and Republicans) cast nearly half of all the votes in the Democratic primary last time. But it’s hard to win a party’s nomination without performing competitively among voters in that party. Many states restrict participation to registered Democrats. In 2008, self-identified Democrats cast almost exactly three-fourths of Democratic primary votes, and Obama held Clinton to a narrow 6-percentage-point advantage among them—allowing him to make up the difference with his crossover support. Sanders, who did not describe himself as a Democrat until recently, is very unlikely to become the Democratic nominee without converting more Democrats to his “political revolution.”

 

Boeing Given Contract for Work on Next Air Force One- Up, Up and Away

Air_Force_One

by Jake Meister, Real Time Digital Reporter,

 

 

The Air Force awarded Boeing a $25.7 million contract on Friday to provide risk reduction work for the Presidential Aircraft Recapitalization Program, which will ultimately lead to the development of the next Air Force One, a Boeing 747-8.

Under the agreement, Boeing will provide work that should produce “a lower risk Engineering and Manufacturing Development program and lower life cycle costs,” the Air Force announced in a statement.

Boeing will eventually receive contract modifications from the Air Force to deliver the wide-bodied 747-8 aircraft, all of which will undergo a slew of upgrades to meet the needs of transporting the President.

“This is the start of our contractual relationship with Boeing. It will allow Boeing to begin working on what will be the next Air Force One,” said Col. Amy McCain, the Presidential Aircraft Recapitalization program manager.

“McCain continued “We are focused on ensuring this program is affordable. This contract gets us started on determining how to modify a 747-8 to become the next Air Force One, and finding opportunities for cost reduction through detailed requirements choices, competition of subsystems, and in the sustainment of the aircraft after it has been fielded.”

Air Force Secretary Deborah Lee James echoed McCain’s statement, saying that developing the Air Force One at an affordable price will be paramount. James also said that Air Force One “is one of the most visible symbols of the United States of America” and that the future aircraft will be able to “execute the presidential support mission, while reflecting the office of the president of the United States of America [in a manner] consistent with the national public interest.”

The Air Force said it will encourage competition for the work needed to sustain the aircraft throughout its life cycle, which is slated to be 30 years. The military branch hopes a clash for the contracts among companies lower costs, promote innovation, and give the military more technical options. The military thinks it might be able to force the competition by owning a portion of the technical baseline involved with the Air Force One.

James said that while the current Air Force One Fleet has worked well, of all the Boeing VC-25A aircraft need to be replaced due to increased need for maintenance, obsolete parts, and decreasing manufacturing sources.

Boeing will conduct the cost-plus-fixed-fee contract work in Seattle and Everett, Wash. The labor is slated to be finished by April 21, 2017, according to the DoD.

 

The Pay Gap is Even Worse for Black Women and, That’s Everyone’s Problem

black money

 

July 21, 2015

Would you like to work seven extra months for free just to earn the same paycheck as your male co-workers? We didn’t think so. Unfortunately, if you’re a black woman in the United States, that’s a likely reality.

Black women were paid 63 percent of what non-Hispanic white men were paid in 2014. That means it takes the typical black woman nearly seven extra months to be paid what the average white man took home back on December 31. That’s even worse than the national pay gap for all women, 79 percent, as reported in AAUW’sThe Simple Truth about the Gender Pay Gap. Think about how that adds up in the course of a career, and we’re talking about losing a daunting chunk of change over a lifetime.

Industry Matters

Why is this happening? Looking at industry helps us understand some of the gap — but not all of it. Black women are more likely than women nationally to work in the lowest-paying occupations (like service, health care support, and education) and less likely to work in the higher-paying engineering and tech fields ormanagerial positions.

The U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics shows that the percentage of black women who are full-time minimum-wage workers is higher than that of any other racial group. To make matters worse, there’s an even bigger pay gap in the service industry, where black women are paid on average just 60 percent of what male servers are paid. That’s why a livable minimum wage is crucial to all women (who make up two-thirds of tipped workers), and especially black women.

On top of being overrepresented at the low-paying end of the spectrum, black women are underrepresented at the top. Black women make up a scant 1 percent of the high-paying engineering workforce and 3 percent of computing. And these are the fields where the gender pay gap is the smallest! Among the few who do break into these careers, discriminatory pay and promotion practices and the hostile environment drive many out.

 

Simple Truth Fall 2015 Figure 4

What about education, you ask? True, education matters when it comes to increasing any group’s wages. But that doesn’t mean the gap goes away — in fact, it even widens with higher levels of education in some fields. That means that there is still a portion of the pay gap unexplained by education or chosen field. Process of elimination (and anecdotal evidence) tells us that racial discrimination is a likely culprit.

This inequity stretches to more visible fields, too, like business (Ursula Burns is still the only black female Fortune 500 CEO) and Hollywood (none of the 10 highest-paid film actresses in 2013 were black).

Equal Pay Helps Everyone

Diversity is a no-brainer when it comes to more productive and innovative businesses and workforces. Casting a wider net grows the talent pool with more qualified applicants. And more diverse voices in the room lead to more solutions.

Paying all workers fairly means more earners can support their families and grow the economy. Forty percent of all mothers with young children are the sole or primary breadwinners for their families — and that number is even higher among black mothers. A fair salary can mean the difference between poverty and sustainability for a family.

10 Key Players in the Debate Over Gun Reform- The Guns are Loaded

gun violence

 

Mehagan Alexander of Gun Sense S.C., state Sen. Lee Bright, state Rep. Wendell Gilliard, Gov. Nikki Haley, state Sen. Marlon Kimpson, state Sen. Gerald Malloy, Charleston Police Chief Greg Mullen, state Rep. Mike Pitts, state Rep. Todd Rutherford and Gerald Stoudemire of Gun Owners of South Carolina.

 

The wake of the mass shooting at Emanuel AME Church, dozen of bills have been introduced to both restrict and expand laws related to buying and carrying firearms in South Carolina. It’s a topic sure to invite passionate debate between those seeking reforms to curb gun violence and others who worry about eroding Second Amendment rights. Here are some influential advocates who are sure to play prominent roles in that debate as the legislative session unfolds.

Gov. Haley says existing gun regulations are sufficient

BY GAVIN JACKSON

gjackson@postandcourier.com

Gov. Nikki Haley attended all of the funerals for the nine worshippers killed in the Charleston Emanuel AME Church shooting last summer.

But going forward, she has said nothing about the need for new gun laws in South Carolina.

“The gun wasn’t to blame at the end of the day, it was the hate,” Haley said of the tragedy. “Let’s dig deeper. The easy part is to throw it after the gun. The harder part is to go to the heart of why people did it in the first place.”

Haley, in the middle of her second term as governor, drew national attention last summer when she spearheaded the push to remove the Condeferate battle flag from the Statehouse grounds in the wake of the church massacre. But so far, she not been a vocal presence in the gun debate.

For Haley, existing gun regulations are sufficient, if they’re followed.

“How do you go through nine funerals and sit there and find out the FBI didn’t do their job?” Haley said. “There’s no new law we need for that. They should’ve just done their job.”

By executive order earlier this month, President Barack Obama called for $500 million toward mental health and to add 230 more background check personnel, among other gun-related initiatives.

Haley, a Republican supporter of increased mental health investments, said Obama’s actions — which include tighter reporting rules, stricter enforcement of laws to limit the gun show “loophole” and more background checks — won’t do much.

“In all of the mass shootings we’ve seen, as devastating as they are, the change the president has proposed will not fix any of that,” Haley said. “All you’re doing is hurting the legal gun owners that are always trying to do the right thing.”

Haley’s enthusiasm for guns as a gun range hobbyist is well-known.

For Christmas in 2013 she posted on Facebook, Twitter and Instagram a picture of the Beretta PX4 Storm she got as a present from her husband, Michael. She also has a concealed weapons permit.

Charleston police chief supports tougher penalties for repeat gun-law offenders

BY DAVE MUNDAY

dmunday@postandcourier.com

It almost seems as if South Carolina’s lawmakers have made more efforts to crack down on shoplifters than felons carrying guns.

At least that’s the way it looks to Charleston Police Chief Greg Mullen, who for years has been trying to get the law changed on how felons with guns are punished.

The penalties get harsher each time a person is convicted of shoplifting. Same thing for driving under suspension or driving under the influence.

But the penalty for a felon carrying a weapon is the same no matter how many times it happens.

“There is more serious punishment for those who steal minor property items than for somebody who is out there illegally possessing and carrying a handgun unlawfully,” Mullen said. “We don’t think that’s correct.”

Mullen oversees South Carolina’s largest police department, with 447 officers under his command. He’s a data-driven guy, and he knows that firearms have played an outsized role in the homicides that have occurred in his community. All but five of the 33 killings over the past three years have involved guns.

Mullen’s city also was home to the worst mass shooting in South Carolina’s modern history: the massacre of nine worshippers at Emanuel AME Church.

Mullen has described gun violence in the U.S. as a “crisis” that drains taxpayer money for health care, social services, judicial and law enforcement costs. He has been urging support for bills in the state Legislature that would increase penalties for repeat violations of gun laws.

Mullen also backs proposed laws that would require background checks for firearm purchases through gun shows or private sales. Current state law requires checks only when buying from a licensed dealer.

“I don’t look at this from a gun control perspective,” Mullen said. “I look at it as a violence prevention perspective. All we’re trying to do is determine that those who are buying a gun are in fact eligible under federal and state law to possess it. I don’t think that inhibits anybody’s Second Amendment rights.”

Sen. Bright vows to protect 2nd Amendment rights

BY CYNTHIA ROLDAN

croldan@postandcourier.com

COLUMBIA — State Sen. Lee Bright, who famously raffled off an AR-15 military-style rifle in his failed 2014 U.S. Senate campaign, is threatening to block any bill in the state Legislature this year that would restrict gun access rights.

The Republican from Roebuck is an outspoken advocate of the Second Amendment and the right to bear arms.

He knows gun control advocates hope the June 17 killing of nine worshippers at Charleston’s Emanuel AME Church will shift momentum toward enacting stronger gun restrictions.

Bright also contends that too many state legislators, particularly Democrats, have sided with President Obama on the need for greater gun control.

Bright, who runs an insurance agency, is a believer in virtually no restrictions on guns. For years he’s pushed for a constitutional carry bill — which allows for the carrying of concealed weapons without a permit — and he plans to shepherd a House bill that would do just that during this legislative session.

Bright worries that more government-mandated restrictions might slow or stop a person whose life is threatened from getting a potentially life-saving firearm. He also wants access to guns to be increased, not reduced, so citizens can protect themselves from potential criminals crossing the Southern border.

Bright’s vow to block any bill to restrict gun access that advances in the Senate is no empty threat. Under Senate rules, each senator can kill almost any bill through a procedural maneuver that makes it virtually impossible to move a contested piece of legislation forward.

“It’s going to come down to the Senate,” Bright said of the impending gun battle. “If I’m attacked for protecting the Second Amendment, then that’s a burden I’m willing to bear.”

Longtime gun control advocate Rep. Gilliard vows to renew push for legislation

BY CYNTHIA ROLDAN

croldan@postandcourier.com

COLUMBIA — Rep. Wendell Gilliard is tired of attending funerals for those lost to gun violence. He’s also tired of fighting for reforms to stem the bloodshed, only to walk away empty-handed at the close of each legislative session.

“Now is the time to either put up or shut up,” the Charleston Democrat said earlier this month. “That is just the bottom line. Don’t wait until the next tragedy.”

Gilliard has pushed anti-violence measures and social justice reforms for much of his adult life. A former chemical plant worker and union leader, he won a bid to Charleston’s City Council in 1997.

He saw the toll from gun violence in his district and even found himself in the line of fire on one occasion when two men randomly started shooting from a vehicle on a West Ashley street in 2002. He was not injured but was stunned by the brazenness of the gunmen.

Gilliard, first elected to the House in 2008, has long been a vocal advocate for gun control measures, saying “Anyone who talks about gun reform is a friend of mine.” He insists that he doesn’t want to infringe on the Second Amendment rights of the state’s residents but contends there’s an increasing need for what he describes as common-sense reforms.

Gilliard introduced several gun control bills for the 2015 legislative session, including one to ban the sale of green-tip ammunition that can pierce the bullet-proof vests of law enforcement officers.

But many of his bills weren’t given a second thought until tragedy struck at Emanuel AME Church in June. With the mass shooting still fresh in people’s minds, Gilliard intends to lobby hard for his bills to be taken up in committee for discussion this session.

“These are not knee-jerk bills,” Gilliard said. “Why do we always have to wait until tragedy knocks on doors?”

Stoudemire: Proposed bills won’t have ‘any effect’ on crimes, mass shootings

BY MAYA T. PRABHU

mprabhu@postandcourier.com

COLUMBIA — The leading voice tied to the National Rifle Association in South Carolina has a lot of friends in the Legislature. In fact, he helped teach many of them how to shoot.

Gerald Stoudemire, president of Gun Owners of South Carolina, said he’s helped dozens of lawmakers qualify for their conceal weapon permits — Gov. Nikki Haley included.

Haley was a member of the House of Representatives at the time, honing her gun skills long before making it to the Governor’s Mansion, Stoudemire said.

Even some of the lawmakers perceived as anti-gun have been taught by him.

Stoudemire owns Little Mountain Gun and Supply store with his wife and teaches concealed weapons classes. As Stoudemire sees it, the proposed bills that restrict law-abiding citizens’ access to guns will do nothing to curb gun violence. He predicts that no reform bills will see the light of day.

“I do not believe anything that’s been filed (in South Carolina) will have any effect on our crimes or mass shootings,” he said.

His group, which numbers between 900 and 1,000 members, is the state affiliate of the NRA in South Carolina, its website states. They also promote hunting, education and sporting competition efforts.

Stoudemire maintains that local and federal authorities need to improve enforcement of existing laws, not add new restrictive ones.

“There are so many federal laws dealing with firearms that you couldn’t read them in a week,” he said. “The thing is, they’re selectively enforced. We don’t need changes. What we need is enforcement of what we have. At every level.”

Sen. Kimpson’s district includes two highest-profile gun killings

BY MAYA T. PRABHU

mprabhu@postandcourier.com

COLUMBIA — State Sen. Marlon Kimpson’s district was the epicenter of South Carolina’s two highest-profile gun killings last year, both of which drew enormous national attention.

His turf includes the Emanuel AME Church as well as the grassy lot where an unarmed black motorist, Walter Scott, died after being shot in the back multiple times by a white North Charleston police officer.

But it’s also personal for the Charleston Democrat. Kimpson served with the Rev. Clementa Pinckney, a fellow Democratic state senator who was killed along with eight others in his Bible study at Emanuel AME.

After the killings, Kimpson helped hammer out a method to disperse millions of dollars donated to the city of Charleston’s Hope Fund for the shooting victims’ families and survivors.

Legal skill backs his avowed push for gun control measures in the Statehouse this year. At Charleston’s Motley Rice law firm, he handles cases ranging from complex securities fraud to the personal traumas of people killed or maimed in catastrophic events.

On the Senate floor, he once noted that a gun kills someone in South Carolina every 14 hours. “These are statistics that alarm me,” he declared.

So far, Kimpson has filed three of a planned package of five bills aimed at stemming gun carnage. One would ban military-style guns. Another would require residents to register their guns. A third would close the so-called “Charleston loophole,” which let accused Emanuel AME Church shooter Dylann Roof purchase a gun when he shouldn’t have been able to pass a background check.

The moment is ripe for gun reform, Kimpson deemed, calling it of “paramount importance to South Carolina.”

Gun Sense SC’s Alexander building support to tighten purchasing rules

BY GAVIN JACKSON

gjackson@postandcourier.com

During the winter of 2012, Meghan Alexander learned that a college classmate’s child had died at Sandy Hook Elementary in Connecticut, one of 20 children gunned down in that most innocent of places.

In summer 2015, Alexander learned that nine people died in a barrage of gunfire at Emanuel AME Church, another of those most innocent places, but this one in her hometown. Using her background in marketing and public relations, it took Alexander less than two weeks to convene the first meeting of a new independent group, Gun Sense SC.

Since its first meeting on July 1, the Charleston-based group has ballooned to 500 members with plans to launch groups in Columbia and Myrtle Beach.

Its members include gun owners, and two veterans sit on the nonprofit’s board. Another teaches gun safety.

Alexander is quick to note that she grew up in a gun-owning family and that Second Amendment rights must be preserved.

Gun Sense SC is building grassroots support to reduce gun violence by tightening rules on who can purchase firearms.

After all, if the “Charleston loophole” didn’t exist, Dylann Roof wouldn’t have been able to buy a gun, and Gun Sense SC wouldn’t be around, she said. Roof should not have been able to purchase the semi-automatic pistol reportedly used in the killings because he had admitted possessing illegal drugs.

Alexander is working to keep discussions about background checks away from the shrill center stage of partisan politics to a quieter, more meaningful conversation among people of both political parties.

“Talking about guns is hard, but once we break the ice,” she said, “people are willing to discuss it.”

S.C. House Democratic leader concerned over giving government more control

BY CYNTHIA ROLDAN

croldan@postandcourier.com

COLUMBIA — Blindly trusting government is not what House Minority Leader Todd Rutherford or many of his colleagues do.

That’s why he’s not in favor of giving the government more control over how long someone has to wait to gain access to a gun until he’s clear about what is causing the delays. Numerous bills have been filed in the Legislature that would set mandatory waiting periods for a firearm before it can be sold or exchanged.

Rutherford is a former prosecutor who now works as a criminal defense lawyer in Columbia.

First elected in 1998, he’s earned a reputation through eight terms in office as a leading voice among House Democrats. He’s passionate about issues, including criminal justice reform, and he’s demonstrated a willingness to follow his own compass rather than strictly adhere to the party line.

Rutherford worries about potential consequences that could come with waiting periods and other reforms. He said it’s possible that a woman being stalked could be injured or killed because she could not obtain a gun fast enough to protect herself. He said it’s also possible that a government office might discriminate against minorities, routinely delaying background checks to delay gun purchases.

Rutherford said he supports preventing criminals and deranged people from getting firearms and would support closing loopholes that allow them to do so.

But the advancement of gun legislation won’t be the Democratic Caucus’ sole focus during the 2016 session, he said.

And he would not support any bill that requires citizens to register their guns with law enforcement.

Rep. Pitts wants current gun laws enforced before reforms are made

BY MAYA T. PRABHU

mprabhu@postandcourier.com

COLUMBIA — Rep. Mike Pitts speaks proudly of his “mountain folk” ancestors who grabbed their squirrel rifles to defend the South in the Civil War. The lifelong hunter and retired Greenville police officer sees an honored tradition of gun ownership in this state, and he’s made it clear he will fight to keep it that way.

He also has the resume to back it up. The staunch Second Amendment advocate is entering his 14th year in the Legislature. He’s a lifetime member of the NRA and has earned an A-plus lifetime rating from the organization’s political victory fund, according to Project Vote Smart. “The problem is gun owners do not trust the agenda of the anti-gun side,” Pitts said. “They do not trust the government, and for very valid reasons.”

Outside of his Statehouse duties, Pitts is a past president of the National Assembly of Sportsmen’s Caucuses and a member of North American Hunting Club and the Gun Owners of South Carolina. In 2008, he traveled to Peru to help convince leaders there to reopen sport hunting in the country after a 40-year ban.

Pitts maintains that the media is biased against gun owners. He recently introduced a bill to register practicing journalists much in the same way others want to register gun owners.

The Laurens Republican contends that better enforcement of existing laws is needed, not new restrictions on gun ownership. The biggest issue is that the federal government is too understaffed to handle background checks for gun purchases, he said.

He’s also lost track of how many guns he owns, but insists he might be able to support some common sense reforms.

Sen. Malloy’s bill would extend FBI background checks to 28 days

BY GAVIN JACKSON

gjackson@postandcourier.com

On June 17, state Sen. Gerald Malloy lost close friend and fellow senator, the Rev. Clementa Pinckney, to an avowed racist wielding a .45-caliber handgun he should not have been allowed to buy.

Since then, he has served as attorney, friend and confidante to Pinckney’s wife, Jennifer, who hid in another room with their 5-year-old daughter as bullets sprayed over Emanuel AME Church’s fellowship hall, killing nine.

“It’s unfortunate that we continue to hear and read horrific stories of people being hunted down like wild game,” Malloy said. “Something needs to stop.”

Accused killer Dylann Roof shouldn’t have been able to pass a background check to buy the gun reportedly used in the Emanuel AME shooting. However, an error held up his check for longer than the three-day wait, so the gun was sold to him.

Malloy, a Democrat from Hartsville who sits on the powerful Senate Judiciary Committee, has introduced a bill that could have prevented the purchase of the gun reportedly used in the massacre. His offering increases the FBI’s time to run background checks from the current three days to up to 28 days.

Spartanburg Republican Rep. Doug Brannon is sponsoring similar legislation in the House.

Malloy concedes it will be tough to get the bill through a Legislature that places enormous value on gun rights. But he remains confident and determined.

“The way it could pass is if the public demands it,” Malloy said. “There are people who are losing their lives every day. We’re not going to stop them all, but we can curb it.”

Since the shooting, Malloy has traveled with Jennifer Pinckney as far as the White House to sit with the Pinckneys’ daughters when President Barack Obama announced his recent executive actions. While Second Amendment rights must be protected, Malloy wants people to remember the two young girls who just celebrated their first Christmas without their father.

 

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