S.C. lawmakers provide cover for lawbreakers

South Carolina has again been named one of the most dangerous states in the country.

It’s hard to imagine why. Maybe it is the rash of violence — 495 violent crimes per 100,000 residents at last count. Perhaps it is our highways, which are the most deadly roads this side of a Mad Max movie. Or our deplorable ranking for killing women.

So how do our state leaders respond to the alarming news that we are quickly becoming a state significantly more violent and crime-riddled than even Florida or Texas?

Well, 90 of them thought it would be a good idea to allow everyone in the state to carry a concealed weapon without any training or any proof that they know what to do with a gun — besides kill themselves, or someone else.

That’s brilliant.

It’s too bad our state leaders didn’t bother to contact law enforcement officials before once again pandering to the gun fetish crowd.

Because cops would tell them that is an amazingly bad idea.

No one is going to argue that Charleston Police Chief Greg Mullen is soft on crime. And he is certainly not anti-Second Amendment.

But, he says quite clearly, this idea makes no sense.

“I don’t know how anyone could object to a minimal amount of training to carry a gun,” Mullen says.

Yeah, it defies belief. But some people are apparently so gung-ho to carry their gun they can’t be bothered with filling out a form or taking a one-day class before strapping on a piece.

Let’s not get into the real meaning of the Second Amendment, the part about the well-regulated militia, and just go straight to the rights.

Is carrying a gun more of an inalienable right than driving (remember, they didn’t have cars when they wrote the Constitution)? Should we just let anyone drive a motorized bullet around our roads without training? Few sane people — at least the ones who travel Highway 17 regularly — would argue we need less driver training.

Well, a permit to carry a loaded gun should be at least as onerous to get as a driver’s license.

There are more stories in this country of people dropping their guns in Wal-Mart and shooting themselves or their kids than there are tales of upstanding citizens thwarting strong-arm robberies.

More guns mean more violent crime, studies not commissioned by the gun lobby show.

The worst part, however, is that Mullen argues such a law would hurt crime prevention, even if it doesn’t lead to new incidents involving a free-carry society.

Suppose there are a bunch of guys on the corner, just standing around. Cops know who the bad people are, by and large, which ones have escaped jail time and are people of ill-intent.

Right now, the police can walk up to these guys and, if they are carrying, charge them with a crime. If this law passes, the police have no recourse, they have to let people prone to criminal behavior walk, all because Gus wants to be able to carry a .38 into the hardware store without being bothered to take a class.

That’s no way to support your local law enforcement. But it’s a real good way to de-criminalize bad guys’ criminal behavior.

State Rep. David Mack was one of 18 lawmakers who voted against this free-for-all on concealed carry.

He’s not anti-gun. He supports hunters, sport shooting and people who want to defend their homes. But he says it’s unbelievable to turn the state into the Wild West, to liberalize gun laws simply because Republicans and Democrats are afraid of the NRA lobby.

And that’s what it all comes down to. Is it really a polite society if everyone is walking around looking like Neo from The Matrix?

Somebody is going to get hurt, and it’s not just the bad guys. It’s also the careless, the impatient and the unintelligent — you know, the irresponsible among us.

The only good news here is that the state Senate blocked a similar measure last year, and hopefully will again this year. Mullen says he and other police officials around the state are calling senators, asking to be heard. He can’t believe the House passed this bill without a single hearing, without soliciting police for a single opinion.

“It would be nice if they could pass domestic violence legislation that easily,” Mullen says.

Amen.

The police have a hard enough job without the prospects of everyone on the street walking around armed to the hilt. If the state wants to make the streets safer, they should support professional law enforcement, and leave the political theatrics at home.

Maybe spend more time getting us off these horrible national rankings, instead of making sure we remain No. 1 with a bullet.

Reach Brian Hicks at bhicks@postandcourier.com.