U.S. Senate candidate Lee Bright, and South Carolina Governor Nikki Haley suffered a humiliating defeat Tuesday, when the “constitutional carry” bill they supported was overwhelmingly rejected by a State Senate Judiciary panel. The bill was shot down by a crushing 17-4 vote in the committee, likely killing its chances of being passed this year.
State Senator Lee Bright, a Tea Party candidate who is challenging Lindsey Graham in the South Carolina GOP primary for US Senate, sponsored the legislation. The bill would have permitted anyone to carry a firearm, concealed or open, in public without having to obtain a permit. The ironically named Senator Bright, argued in defense of the law that people can die and choke on hot dogs, and so he asked fellow law makers sarcastically:
Would it be OK if we had a hot dog eating class required?
South Carolina averages around 6oo gun deaths a year. Incidentally, hot dog murders and suicides combined average zero deaths a year in South Carolina, and although reliable statistics on fatal hot dog accidents are hard to locate, the number is without a doubt well below 600 annually.
Republican Governor Nikki Haley also supported the measure and planned to sign it when it reached her desk. However, she might as well put her pen back in her desk drawer because the bill will not be coming to her for a signature. Every Democrat on the committee voted to reject the bill. A solid majority of Republicans also rejected the measure. The resounding defeat of Lee Bright’s bill speaks to the power of citizens who are speaking out against nonsensical gun legislation.
The South Carolina chapter of Moms Demand Action for Gun Sense in America testified against the bill and spearheaded the citizen organized effort to fight it. In a statement, chapter leader Erin Dando thanked the committee:
We applaud Committee Chairman Larry Martin for his leadership in opposing this dangerous bill, along with the vast majority of senators who stood up for gun sense, regardless of political party. As mothers who care about the safety of our children, families and communities, we are grateful that the voices of South Carolinian moms were heard in Columbia.
Our moms did not want to see another dangerous gun bill get passed in South Carolina. Our state’s epidemic of gun violence must be addressed with smarter gun laws, not by allowing more and easier access to guns. Our mom members called senators while walking their kids to school, tweeted on work lunch breaks, and sent emails well into the night urging our leaders to vote for gun sense.
Not only did they demand action in the heart of a deep red state on a Republican-dominated committee, but they got it, by a whopping four to one margin with a 17-4 vote. Gun sense won a surprising victory in the Deep South, but given the stunning margin of victory, this may not be the last time gun sense prevails in Dixie. There is, without a doubt, more to come.
Keith Brekhus is a progressive American who currently resides in Red Lodge, Montana. He is co-host for the Liberal Fix radio show. He holds a Master’s Degree in Sociology from the University of Missouri. In 2002, he ran for Congress as a Green Party candidate in the state of Missouri. In 2014, he worked as a field organizer for Democrat Ann Kirkpatrick’s successful re-election bid in Arizona’s 1st Congressional District. He can be followed on Twitter @keithbrekhus or on Facebook.