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Different day, same story: Man buys a handgun and goes on a same-day rampage, killing several people.  

Everyday citizens say they’re shocked, but how can they be? This is the umpteenth time this narrative has played out.

This week it was in the Atlanta area. The lone suspect shot nine people Tuesday. Eight died. The shooter is described as a “super nice, super Christian” who told authorities he had a sex addiction and targeted three spas to eliminate temptation.  

Next week? It could be anywhere. Guns are so ubiquitous and easy to get that it’s hard to find a place safe from the potential of random gun violence.

When will we learn? When will we learn porous gun laws and, even worse, expanding “gun freedoms” are a plague on our society.  It’s a vicious cycle — people want more guns because they’re afraid. And they’re afraid because of all of the violence in America that can be traced back to what? Cotton candy? No, guns.

Legislators have chances to do something smart on guns, rather than the path they’re headed on.

At the federal level, a smart thing is to reinstate a national waiting period for the purchase of guns — something that responsible gun owners generally don’t oppose. At the state level, South Carolina legislators should close the so-called “Charleston loophole,” which firearms sellers take advantage of to sell guns if a background check has not come back in three days. This is the loophole that South Carolina racist Dylann Roof used to murder nine people at Emanuel AME Church in Charleston almost six years ago. U.S. Rep. Jim Clyburn, D-S.C., recently reintroduced a proposal to close the loophole by extending the background check period to 10 days. South Carolina lawmakers should do it now.

What South Carolina legislators do not need to do is to expand the pervasiveness of guns. Already on the books are processes and procedures for citizens who want to be armed to get concealed weapons permits if they want more security.

But is that good enough? Apparently not. Hours after the Atlanta slaughter, South Carolina House members threw caution to the wind and passed a bill that will thrust handguns into the open.

S.C. Rep. Phillip Lowe, R-Florence, actually had the gall to say on the House floor this week that open carry was needed because of South Carolina’s heat. Opening his jacket at the podium, he said when someone with a concealed weapons permit was carrying a gun they would violate the permit if they took off the jacket because it was hot … and that’s why open carry was needed.

Really? Was he serious? In my book, if you have a concealed permit and you want to carry, you should put up with a little sweat as the price to pay to feel safe. Guns that are out in the open are much more dangerous than one locked away at home.

The chief proponent of the open carry bill is Rep. Bobby Cox, a Greenville Republican who (surprise) works for a handgun manufacturer. His argument, equally as specious as Lowe’s, is we need the open carry rule to bring us in line with what goes on in 45 states. Hogwash. Just because other states are doing something wrong doesn’t mean we must, too.

“This is sending a message that these legislators and myself stand with the citizens of South Carolina to protect our constitutional freedoms,” Cox said this week.

Double hogwash. Citizens currently can legally purchase guns. Not having open carry does not impinge on their freedoms. Rather, they just have to follow reasonable rules — just as they do if they want to drive cars or live in a civilized society.  

Democratic state Rep. Jermaine Johnson of Hopkins painted a dramatic picture.

Open carry, he said, is an example of white privilege. But any Black person like him — a former college basketball player with tattoos who is 6 feet, 7 inches tall — would be in real danger if he openly carried a handgun.

“This bill as it stands will be no more than legalized hunting for Black people,” Johnson said. 

Call your state senator today and urge him or her to shut down open carry legislation that will make South Carolina far less safe.

Andy Brack is publisher of the Charleston City Paper. Have a comment? Send to: feedback@charlestoncitypaper.com.

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