Every year, state Sen. Robert Ford introduces legislation to ban semi-automatic weapons in South Carolina.

He does this even though he knows it is the political equivalent of shooting blanks.

So forgive him if he has little faith that the tragedy in Connecticut, where 27 people — most of them children — were massacred last week, is going to spur the nation into action.

“We're not going to get to first base,” Ford says. “Nobody needs an AK-47. But the National Rifle Association has bought just about every politician from Congress down to dogcatcher.”

You have to hand it to Ford, he speaks the unvarnished truth.

Military-style weapons have absolutely no purpose other than killing a lot of people at one time. But no matter how many kids are slaughtered, nothing is going to change.

America values its freedom, no matter how many people have to die for it.

Slippery slope?

Earlier this year, Dorchester County tried to ban shooting within 100 feet of residences after several complaints about yahoos firing guns in subdivisions.

Nothing good can come of that. But that doesn't matter. Nor did it matter that the people drafting the proposed ordinance were gun owners and Second Amendment advocates.

The gun supporters offered the same old excuse that regulations, no matter how sensible they might seem, are a slippery slope:

Give 'em an inch, they'll take your guns.

Sorry, but that is pure baloney. When the government regulates the automobile industry, is it a plot to take your Chevy?

Nicholas Kristof, columnist at the ultra liberal New York Times, noted this weekend that the country puts more regulations on ladders than guns. And that's just crazy.

Even Sen. Joe Manchin, a West Virginia Democrat who posed with a rifle in campaign ads and is a member of the NRA, says it's time to look at gun laws. He notes that no hunter needs 30 rounds in a clip.

That's just common sense. But apparently common sense has no place in this argument.

Who has more rights?

The NRA finally spoke out Tuesday afternoon, saying that it wants to make sure this sort of thing never happens again.

If that means accepting some regulations, perhaps we can cut down on the violence. But they offered no specifics.

Of course, don't expect the NRA to have some sort of major conversion. Many of its members have already suggested that more people carrying guns would curb violence.

Funny, but you rarely see stories about concealed-weapon permit-holders stopping crime. And the idea that teachers should be packing in the classroom is just a little too “Gunsmoke” for most parents.

As Ford says, this is just the same scenario that plays out every time we have a mass shooting.

“America is going to cry, everybody's going to say we should do something, and the government isn't going to do anything,” he says.

Sadly, he's right.

It is amazing that people who believe so strongly in law and order, and the sanctity of the Second Amendment, conveniently ignore that “well-regulated” part of the holy document. They only care about the part that says they have the right to bear arms.

Well, the Founding Fathers, who are so revered these days, didn't have to deal with crazy people shooting up movie theaters with Uzis.

If they had, it's a safe bet they wouldn't have believed someone else's freedom to pack heat was more important than your right not to get shot.

EDITOR'S NOTE:

Previous versions of this story incorrectly identified the party affiliation of Sen. Joe Manchin. The Post and Courier regrets the error.

Reach Brian Hicks at bhicks@postandcourier.com or read his blog at blog.postandcourier.com/brians-blog.