South Carolina lawmakers weigh in on gun control and school safety

BEAUFORT, S.C. (WSAV) – As students in Parkland, Florida return to school, questions about gun control and school safety echo across the United States.

Many are turning to those who have the power to change things — our lawmakers.

“The height of conversation right now are guns,” a woman told a panel of South Carolina lawmakers at Beaufort’s Legislative Luncheon Monday. “I want to know what are your perspectives and do you have any bills in the house to address the situation?”

Last week, South Carolina Governor Henry McMaster said he would support a bill to arm teachers.

“I think that anyone who thinks their life is at threat, ought to be able to defend themselves,” McMaster said.

But with Lowcountry teachers, Representative Mark Sanford said it’s not a popular idea.

“The idea of them holding a gun, and pointing it at one of their students, or having to make the life or death decision of one that you have to shoot one of your students, is a decision they don’t want to make,” Sanford said. “I think it’s a decision that has to be made at the school board level, not at the Washington level, not even at the Columbia level.”

To work on that issue, Representative Shannon Erickson said the governor asked her to co-chair the South Carolina Joint Citizens and Legislative Committee on Children.

She said weapons and mental health will be part of the conversation, and Senator Tom Davis said funding should be as well.

“Adequate funding in the budget, mental health services, and making sure that local districts, school districts have the financial wherewithal to provide the sort of mental health counseling,” Davis said.

“One of the things that happened in Parkland was that everyone knew that this kid was disturbed,” Sanford said, “And yet nobody could do anything.”

Sandford suggests stricter background checks when buying guns and issuing restraining orders based on a threat of gun violence.

The South Carolina Joint Citizens and Legislative Committee on Children is set to start discussing solutions on March 5th.

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