By Brian Hicks
State Sen. Marlon Kimpson is no fool.
He’s not some starry-eyed idealist living in fantasyland, naïve to political reality.
But some people probably will think that, since last week he announced plans to push for tougher gun laws for South Carolina.
Political watchers know that most elected officials run for cover anytime someone has the temerity to suggest anything that could be construed as infringing on the Second Amendment.
Never mind that any other amendment to the U.S. Constitution is considered fair game, or worthy of ignoring — the right to bear arms is untouchable.
And look where that’s gotten us, getting patted down in line to see “Avengers 2.”
Kimpson has plans to file five pieces of legislation meant to close loopholes in gun laws and require better background checks and registration, as well as banning assault weapons and clips that hold an insane number of rounds.
The senator may be relatively new to the General Assembly, but he knows the odds.
“I realize it’s an uphill battle,” Kimpson says. “But I’m not in this position to make everyone happy. I’m in this position to deal with tough issues.”
And this is undoubtedly the toughest one in the state.
Right now there is a three-day waiting period on gun sales so gun dealers can run a background check on their buyers.
But if the feds don’t come back with an answer after that time, the dealer has the discretion to go ahead and sell. You can guess what often happens — three days is nothing to a bureaucracy as large as the federal government, and they often miss the deadline.
And in the case of Dylann Roof, the feds missed the fact that he had pending local charges that made him ineligible to buy the gun he allegedly used to kill nine people at Mother Emanuel in June.
Kimpson wants to close that loophole, not only by requiring people wait for the report to come back, but also to require a SLED check — since the feds are obviously not as adept at checking with city and county law enforcement.
He also wants firearms registered with SLED to keep a better tracking system for guns, and to require people report when their guns are stolen.
Perhaps his most controversial idea, however, is to require people to get a permit from the state to buy firearms.
This is going to be a big issue because some people believe registration is just a way for the government to get a list so they can come and confiscate guns. Sorry, but despite what gun manufacturers and the NRA have been saying, the Obama administration has not tried to take anyone’s guns.
But it sure has been good for sales.
Kimpson knows that’s going to be a tough sell, but he makes a good point: people have to register their cars with the state, so why is it so different with guns?
After all, cars don’t kill people, either — just the people who use them.
If the state lawmakers scoff at any of this, they will show themselves to be the hypocrites we know many of them are.
They pass laws allowing people to carry loaded weapons into bookstores and Applebee’s, yet have a massive security system at the Statehouse to keep people from carrying guns around them.
If it’s a right, why isn’t it a right in the people’s house?
Because deep down, lawmakers know it’s a problem.
We should not have to live in a world where you have to get patted down to walk into a movie theater, but that is how crazy the world has become.
The Legislature knows this better than anyone because that craziness cost them one of their own just two months ago.
Kimpson is right, and his proposals do nothing to stop law-abiding citizens from owning guns. None of this infringes on the rights of law-abiding citizens to own guns.
“It’s time for us to begin the debate,” the senator says.
He’s absolutely right. In politics, timing is everything. Just like it was with the Confederate flag debate, events have forced our hand — and forced reasonable people to quit ignoring some serious problems.
Let’s hope the Legislature listens and uses the senator’s reasonable proposals as a starting point to introduce a little common sense into the law.
Because Kimpson is not the fool here.