Freedom Action Network post about Peter McCoy

A conservative group called the Freedom Action Network posted on Facebook blaming Rep. Peter McCoy, R-Charleston, of holding up a bill to allow people to carry handguns without a permit in South Carolina. It resulted in one commenter asking whether they should shoot McCoy. 

A substitute teacher in Alabama accidentally fired his gun in a first-grade classroom recently. No one was hurt, luckily.

In Michigan, a man threw his shoe at a cockroach — forgetting that’s where he kept his pistol. He literally shot himself in the foot.

And in New Mexico, a driver showing off his 9 mm to a friend in the passenger seat accidentally shot a woman … in the car next to them.

All these accidents occurred within the past month. Know what else they have in common?

They all happened in states that allow open carry, which means just about anyone can carry a gun anywhere, whether or not they know the first thing about firearms.

And some folks wonder why South Carolina lawmakers are hesitant to pass an open carry law here.

Well, it’s not going to happen this year. The controversial legislation is unofficially off the table — because law enforcement is treating a social media post as a threat on Charleston state Rep. Peter McCoy’s life.

You read that correctly.

The Freedom Action Network of South Carolina posted an incendiary statement on Facebook blaming McCoy for the Legislature’s failure to turn this state into the Wild West.

One commenter replied, “Maybe we should shoot him?”

So, now police are guarding McCoy’s home, office and family — as they should. People are crazy, and that is nothing to joke about. McCoy is right to take this seriously.

“I don’t know whether this guy’s statement will spark action by someone else,” McCoy told The Post and Courier. “I don’t know whether he really means it. People think they can say anything behind a keyboard and it won’t have consequences.”

Exactly. The internet is a cesspool that has shown just how uncivil many people truly are when cloaked with semi-anonymity.

But the person who made that comment will soon find out what happens when you are suspected of threatening a public official. SLED has been asked to investigate, and the agency can certainly find a troll.

Of course, the “shoot him” comment wasn’t the only one that hinted at violence; others were just a little more veiled. The Freedom Action Network said Monday it doesn’t condone such comments or violence.

Sorry, but that doesn’t cut it. You can’t stir up people with propaganda, then disavow responsibility for what happens afterward. Even if you take the comment down, which it did.

The Freedom Action Network targeted McCoy — one of the state’s best, most conscientious lawmakers — simply because the Republican is chairman of the House Judiciary Committee, where open carry is stuck. The group didn’t mention a companion bill is also gathering dust in the Senate Judiciary Committee.

Which shows a widespread disinclination to adopt such a law.

So why target McCoy? Perhaps because he’s a former prosecutor, and open carry folks know law enforcement types aren’t thrilled with this idea. Most say open carry is foolhardy and dangerous.

They’re right. The proposed South Carolina open carry law would let anyone carry a gun onto school grounds and into public parks or bars without demonstrating they know the difference between a clip and a trigger.

You know, voting is a constitutional right, too, but there are rules. So gun fetishists should quit complaining and take the one-day concealed weapons permit class.

This isn’t even the first time this month that some supporters of open carry have shown they might be a few rounds shy of a full clip. Last week, a man aptly named McNutt was accused of showing up on the Texas speaker of the House’s doorstep to protest his lack of action on similar legislation.

Police say this McNutt drove 700 miles across Texas to show up at the homes of several lawmakers. The speaker deemed this intimidation and dropped open carry.

Here, even the Legislature’s most ardent open carry supporters backed away in the face of a perceived threat.

All these people have done is scare some good folks, tax local police and reinforce ugly stereotypes some people have about gun owners, most of whom don’t deserve this. Open carry proponents can’t blame McCoy for this, only themselves.

This is what you get for shooting off your mouths.

Reach Brian Hicks at bhicks@postandcourier.com.

Reach Brian Hicks at bhicks@postandcourier.com.