Charleston Police Chief Greg Mullen is not pleased.
Despite the state Legislature's apparent enthusiasm for doing away with concealed-weapons permits, Mullen says, “I think it's a bad idea.”
This isn't a surprise. Mullen attended a public hearing last month in North Charleston for a different bill that would allow concealed-weapons permit holders to bring their weapons into businesses, including those that serve alcohol, as long as there's no sign forbidding it.
When Mullen suggested that the bill could put police officers on the streets in danger, reporter Bo Petersen noted that the chief won only “respectful applause” for that.
Sounds like he would have been even less welcome in Columbia this week, when senators talked about eliminating the concealed-weapons permit process entirely.
“I feel this puts every law enforcement officer in jeopardy,” he said.
The state requires a minimum of 40 hours training for people to drive.
If you were born after June 30, 1979, the state DNR requires you to complete an eight-hour hunter-education course before you can get a hunting license.
And of course, police officers must have regular firearms training, a requirement that apparently hasn't yet come up for discussion, presumably because legislators at least want the police officers to be better shots than the criminals.
It's not like the requirements for a permit — eight hours of certified instruction and a $50 registration fee to SLED — are all that excruciating.
And apparently it wasn't that big a deal for the 39,311 people who were issued permits in 2011 and the 14,650 who renewed permits that year, the latest data available on the SLED website.
Why bother with all that red tape?
Two words: Alice Boland.
Room for compromise
Mullen has carried guns all his adult life, first in the military and now as a police officer.
“I am a believer in the Second Amendment, but I'm also a believer in community safety. I also understand that there's many constitutional rights that we have that have limitations and restrictions that have been placed on them as people have determined a reasonable balance between personal freedoms and public safety.”
Apparently not everybody shares the chief's views.
Certainly not Spartanburg Sen. Shane Martin, who said this week that he was disappointed that law enforcement officials would speak out against gun rights, or as he put it, “God-given constitutional rights.”
Mullen found it odd that someone who is supposed to hear opinions from all sources would then chastise people, including police, for simply giving their opinions.
Of course, this wouldn't be the first time our legislators went through what's supposed to be a public process with a predetermined agenda.
“The argument that bad people carry guns so good people should carry guns, a lot of times, good people become bad people because a gun is introduced into the situation,” Mullen said.
Hopefully state leaders will realize that's not good for anyone.
Reach Melanie Balog at 937-5565 or firstname.lastname@example.org.