Gavin Newsom makes guns an issue that Democrats, even in South Carolina, can run on and win.
Emily A. Havener
I am the mother of two school-age children, and I am well aware that gun violence is the leading cause of death for children in the U.S. today. I worry about this every day I send them off to school. Recently, two students in Summerville were found with loaded guns on school premises. This was unimaginable 15 or 20 years ago.
I expect my elected representatives to address this problem, which Second Amendment Republicans avoid or make worse through their legislative actions and inaction.
Several times this spring I wrote to Rep. Nancy Mace to express my fears and frustrations. She responded with form letters containing these telling phrases: "It's clear gun control and gun bans don't work." And, "Democrats just want to ban guns."
Both assertions are nonsense, which is what we repeatedly get from Mace.
For her information, gun control measures DO work. The federal assault weapons ban (1994-2004) made death by mass shooting 70 percent less likely. That astounding figure cannot be ignored, except by deniers like Mace.
Second, Democrats do not want to "ban guns." That is Republican gaslighting. What Democrats DO want---and that serves as a clear response to Mace---was outlined recently by California Governor Gavin Newsom. He proposed a 28th Amendment to the Constitution that offers a clear policy Democrats can embrace.
Newsom proposes to raise the minimum age to purchase a firearm from 18 to 21. He would mandate universal background checks and a waiting period before purchase. He would reinstitute the assault weapons ban.
The Republican-dominated South Carolina Legislature is opposed to all of this. Instead, in wild-west fashion, they are advocating for the right for nearly everyone to carry a firearm in public with little or no training.
But just as Republicans seriously overplayed their hand on a woman's right to reproductive freedom, they have now seriously overplayed their Second Amendment mania. This can now become a Democratic issue if we offer a good policy prescription. Newsom's amendment is a start.
We Democrats should extend Newsom's proposals to embrace mental health and school safety issues.
We should make use of the Republicans' default argument that gun violence is just a mental health problem. We know that mental health problems and poverty often occur together. We should therefore back community-based violence intervention programs such as summer youth employment and mental health initiatives, and poverty-relief measures.
We should also support realistic measures to keep our children safe in schools. Republican proposals such as active shooter drills and armed teachers are NOT realistic. For example, we need better threat assessment programs, since we know that school shooters are likely to be current or former students, and at least one person is aware of a shooter's plan in advance.
These proposals should all be elements of a Democratic gun regulation agenda. Not only should we be flooding Mace's phone lines and in-box with demands that she respond to these proposals, but we should also be putting those Republicans who represent Dorchester County in Columbia on record about their efforts to address gun violence. This means contacting and exposing Assemblymen Gary Brewer, Gil Gatch, Chris Murphy, and Robby Robbins, plus Senator Sean Bennett.
Instead of watching in horror as our State Legislature creates a culture with no meaningful limits on gun ownership, we must pressure them to take the safety of our children seriously. As a mother and a Democrat, that is what I intend to do.