Sunday, May 13, 2007
Guns in schools -- not smart
MAY 13, 2007 - - It's a good bet you've heard this saying:
"Handguns don't kill people; people kill people."
Nice line, but do you really think allowing people with concealed
weapons permits to take guns on school grounds is really a
smart idea? If you do, I've got a bridge to sell you in Brooklyn.
Seriously, the idea to allow more guns on school and college
campuses is counter-intuitive. It doesn't pass the smell test.
While those with the guns might feel safer, there's no evidence
they would be a good shot in the event of a Virginia Tech-like
massacre. There's no proof more guns would even serve as a
deterrent to keep a nut from taking guns on campuses and opening
fire. (Remember - if he or she were a nut, the simple logic
of other people having guns on campuses probably would elude
them because of their mental state.)
More frightening is the increased potential for violence
on school grounds because more guns are there. Yes, I know
people with concealed weapons permits are responsible and
upstanding. Otherwise they couldn't get the permit. But just
as when you add more sugar to tea and it gets sweeter, adding
more guns to campuses increases risks.
That's why it is encouraging that a bill to allow anyone
with a concealed weapons permit to carry a gun on a public
school or college campus is slowing down in the S.C. House.
Quick to rush a solution to "solve" any Virginia
Tech-like problem in South Carolina with this bill, about
20 lawmakers signed onto the proposal by Rep. Jeff Duncan,
The bill likely won't come up before the end of the legislative
session as lawmakers have adjourned debate on it in committee.
Next year, they ought to kill it for good as an ill-considered,
knee-jerk reaction to a tragedy. And then they should take
a serious look at the state's handgun laws to make them tougher.
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Please keep your comment to 250 words or less:
Please know we're not suggesting taking guns away from anybody.
And we're not suggesting any limits on shotguns or rifles
used for hunting. We're talking about making it harder to
get handguns. Regardless of any industry argument, they are
not made for hunting animals. They're made for killing people.
Listen to a recent commentary by Adam Gopnik in The
"Making it more difficult to buy guns that kill people
is, however, a rational way to reduce the number of people
killed by guns. Nations with tight gun laws have, on the whole,
less gun violence; countries with somewhat restrictive gun
laws have some gun violence; countries with essentially no
gun laws have a lot of gun violence. (If you work hard, you
can find a statistical exception hiding in a corner, but exceptions
are just that. Some people who smoke their whole lives don't
get lung cancer, while some people who never smoke do; still,
the best way not to get lung cancer is not to smoke.}"
A few facts about handguns from the Brady Campaign to Prevent
Gun Violence (www.bradycampaign.org):
- There are about 192 million privately-owned guns in the
United States, 65 million of which are handguns.
- In 2004, 29569 people in the U.S. died from firearm-related
deaths. Thirty-nine percent (11,624) were murdered; 16,750
were suicides; 649 were suicides. In the same year, firearms
were used to murder 56 people in Australia, 184 people in
Canada, 73 in England and Wales, and 5 in New Zealand.
- In the U.S. in 2004, about eight children and teen-agers
were killed with guns daily.
- Gun violence has a big cost, according to a 2000 study
published by Oxford University Press. Direct and indirect
costs, including lost wages, medical costs and security
costs, are estimated at $100 billion a year in the U.S.
Some 80 percent of the economic costs of treating firearms
injuries are paid by taxpayers, according to two studies
from the early 1990s.
The right to bear arms is a constitutional right actualized
in allowing people to own rifles and shotguns. Reducing gun
violence from handguns isn't about the right to bear arms.
It's about saving lives.
You can reach Andy Brack, publisher of
SC Statehouse Report, at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Another great cartoon by Bill McLemore:
Workers' comp reform proposal needs work still
To the editor:
Workers' compensation reform legislation will be debated
May 15 in the South Carolina House. The bill passed out of
the House Labor Commerce and Industry Committee fails to even
address how the insurance industry sets premiums. Unless the
"loss cost multiplier" is again subject to review
and approval by the Insurance Commission, any "reform
bill" will have little effect on rising premiums.
The "loss cost multiplier" provides insurance carriers
with a method of recouping their overhead and their annual
assessment from the Second Injury Fund. It also includes the
insurance company's profit over and above their loss costs
or payouts. Historically, this part of the premium was subject
to actuarial review and approval by the Insurance Commission.
An amendment to state law a few years ago now allows insurance
companies to set their own "loss cost multiplier"
free from any regulatory oversight. Since this change in state
law, that portion of the premium has increased almost 200
percent. This is the primary reason why workers' compensation
premiums have skyrocketed in South Carolina. In other words,
insurance industry profits are not even being considered in
their rate base anymore.
Abolishing the Second Injury Fund will not have the anticipated
result of reducing premiums in South Carolina. Both Arkansas
and Oklahoma abolished their second injury funds a few years
back but are now considering reinstating them.
Until our Insurance Commission is again required to scrutinize
the "loss cost multiplier" as part of all premium
increases, we can expect workers' compensation rates to continue
to rise for South Carolina businesses. If you share my concern,
please contact your House member in support of a loss cost
multiplier provision in the House. The Senate's version of
the bill has already included this provision. The House bill
should contain the same requirement.
-- Tom Ervin, Greenville, S.C.
Ways to make a better food stamp program
To the editor:
As someone who has put in many hours (years) attempting to
increase Food Stamp participation rates in S.C., please allow
me to add a couple of suggestions to your excellent list [Commentary,
Because the state loses funding based on its "error
rate," application simplification has been done pretty
much to its maximum. Eligibility workers have no incentive
to help as Federal officials consider it an "error"
and denial of funding to the State if benefits are awarded
erroneously but not if they are erroneously denied. A major
barrier to quick access is that it is the responsibility of
the applicant to meet all the eligibility requirements, few
of which they are aware of at their first visit. This requires
them to not only produce hard copy of records that they probably
don't have already but to also document negatives (such as
proof of no rental income) and physically return to the Food
Stamp office, many of which are inaccessible because of lack
The easiest way the state could increase participation without
increasing its error rate is to use its electronic records
capabilities to share information among state agencies. For
example, currently applicants seeking proof of date of birth
must contact DHEC, pay a fee of about $5, wait several weeks
for a birth certificate, and physically return to the local
Food Stamp office. In this electronic age, DHEC could provide
instant verification to DSS for Food Stamp applicants, saving
considerable time, effort, and dollars. An alternative is
to contract with local non-profits such as Lowcountry Food
Bank to assist clients in completing applications. But, as
I said, their is no incentive for increasing participation
rates as these well-intentioned non-profits might err in favor
of feeding hungry people and bring down the wrath of the public
that somebody got one dollar more for food than they deserved.
-- Laura Morris, Mount Pleasant, S.C.
- 4/22: Enjoy
seeing them while you can, Janie Behr, Florence,
- 4/15: Great
piece, Pat Jobe, Greenville, SC
- 4/4: SC
should take head out of sand, Daniel Berler, Mount
- 4/3: Don't
condemn people for choices, Elizabeth S. Bunker,
Fountain Inn, SC.
- 4/2: Sanford
would be good veep, Terry L. Bowyer, Lyman, SC
- 3/26: House
off-base on ultrasound vote, Ree Mallison, West Columbia,
- 3/25: Condemns
abortion, George W. Dargen, Darlington, SC
- 3/20: Payday
lending is sought-after service, Ken Compton, Spartanburg,
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