SC lawmakers call for swift action on hate crime, gun control legislation

Some even called for an emergency session to vote on two bills

COLUMBIA, S.C. (WOLO) —In response to the tragic shootings in El Paso and Dayton this weekend, several South Carolina lawmakers are calling for state and federal leaders to take action on gun control.

Some have proposed new bills to heighten penalties for hate crimes, and some even wrote a letter to Governor McMaster and leaders of the House and Senate to urge them to call a special session to vote on gun control issues.

“How many more times are we going to watch this on the news? How many times are we going to read about it and say, oh we can’t do nothing to stop it? That’s not an option anymore. It’s time that we do all that we can to protect our children, to protect the lives of other people’s children, to protect the lives of people that simply want to go to Wal-Mart and go back-to-school shopping,” said House Minority Leader Todd Rutherford (D-Richland County).

Several lawmakers on both sides of the State House have already put the wheels in motion on legislation to combat hate crimes and gun violence.

Senator Darrell Jackson (D-Richland County) is bringing back a bill he first proposed in 1997, which would establish punishments for hate crimes in South Carolina.

In a statement, Jackson said the time to act is now, so they can hold people who commit targeted acts of violence and destruction accountable.

Meanwhile, Representatives Wendell Gilliard (D-Charleston County) and Wendy Brawley (D-Richland County) wrote a letter to Governor Henry McMaster (R-South Carolina), House Speaker Jay Lucas (R-Darlington County), and Senate President Harvey Peeler (R-Cherokee County), encouraging them to have an emergency session to vote on bills focused on hate crimes and assault weapons.

Senator Greg Gregory (R-Lancaster County) told ABC Columbia it will be tough to convince his Republican colleagues to vote on certain issues, but he says he would be in favor of stricter background checks and limiting the availability of military style weapons

Representative Rutherford says making the right decisions could safe lives.

“We’ve got to take common-sense approaches towards controlling gun ownership to make sure bad people don’t get guns,” said Representative Rutherford.

Some people from the Midlands were on the front lines when protesting gun violence in the nation’s capital.

After hearing about the tragedy in El Paso, a place where she once lived for two years, Patty Tuttle joined thousands of mothers from Moms Demand Action in marching to the White House to make their voices heard.

Now back home in the Midlands, Tuttle is continuing to push for lawmakers to do their jobs and keep people safe.

“No one should fear walking around in their community and getting shot at all, let alone their schools where you expect to be safe. When somebody drops off their child at school everyday, they don’t expect that and should not have to deal with that,” said Tuttle, who is part of the Midlands chapter of Moms Demand Action.

Palmetto Guns Rights, a group that strongly advocates for the Second Amendment, did not respond to our request for comment.

Tuttle says her group fully supports the Second Amendment, but they want to make sure guns do not get into the hands of the wrong people.

Senator Lindsey Graham (R-South Carolina) issued a statement after President Donald Trump made remarks about the recent shootings, saying he appreciates Trump’s statement rejecting hate and white supremacist ideology, while also working with Senator Richard Blumenthal (D-Connecticut) to create a federal grant program to encourage states to adopt “Red Flag” protection orders to provide law enforcement opportunities to work with mental health professionals to determine which cases need to be acted upon.

Categories: Local News, News