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Mia McLeod: “Heated”

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DEBATE OVER DOMESTIC VIOLENCE LEGISLATION MAKING TEMPERATURES RISE …

|| By MIA McLEOD ||  Domestic violence is real in South Carolina.  So are the guns that were used to obliterate the lives of at least 40 of the 47 women, men and children who were murdered in 2013.

It’s real here in Richland County, for the families of Tabatha Priester, Dierra Fisher, Reynettia Mosley and my cousin, Zelda Kollock.

It’s real in Anderson County for the families of Brenda Hurt, Sonja Roe and Theresa Williams.

It’s real in Greenville and Spartanburg Counties for the families of Kristin Collins, Joyce Elliott, Tracie Gilbert, Mary Guthrie, and David Moholland.

It’s real in Charleston and Dorchester Counties for the families of Melinda Ford, Zakiya Lawson, Barbara Reese, and Mong Thuy Doan.

It’s real in Abbeville and Greenwood Counties for the families of Samuel George and Felicia Bayford.

It’s real in Horry, Georgetown and Florence Counties for the families of Steven Hall, Ebony Parson, David Sims, Jr., Terry Vick, Yvonne Holmes and Kendra Johnson.

It’s real in Oconee, Pickens and Cherokee Counties, for the families of Gwendolyn Hiott, Christy Ingram, and Doris Smith.

It’s real in Lancaster and York Counties for the families of Deborah Hilton, Sierra Landry and Mary Martin.

It’s real in Aiken, Edgefield and Saluda Counties for the families of Christopher Rowley, Otis Key, Jr. and Annie Rowe.

It’s real in Newberry County for the families of Anndrenna Butler and Sally Myers.

And it doesn’t get any more real than in Greenwood County, where Chandra Fields’ ex-boyfriend shot and killed her, her parents and her nephews – before turning the gun on himself.

Domestic Violence knows no boundaries.  It touches every region … every race … and every resident of our state. There’s no room for political posturing, grand-standing or ego-trippin’.

It’s time for us to get real.

For too long, lawmakers have been obsessed with protecting the liberties of lawbreakers, and that obsession continues to trample and trump the rights of our citizens.

Today, the SC House passed a bipartisan DV Reform bill. And while this legislation is stronger and more comprehensive than our current DV law, it simply provides a foundation upon which we can build.

But for a state that often puts more emphasis on teaching children how to shoot instead of teaching them how to read, this bill is a significant step towards saving lives.

And yet, our obsession with guns is far from over.  On Tuesday, the House’s debate was less about how many lives we could save, and more about how these abusive offenders and murderers can get their guns back, after they’ve been confiscated.

In fact, Rep. Phil Lowe tried to take that obsession even further, by proposing that SLED protect these confiscated firearms in a humidity-controlled environment.

Seriously?

Too bad we can’t “control” the temperatures of abusers and “regulate” the environments of those who live in constant fear.

Maybe if we cared as much about protecting life and liberty, as we do property … we just might be able to stop some abusers before they kill.

Perhaps we could then eliminate these insidious, insensitive proposals that continue to make my “temperature” rise.

We’ve got a real opportunity to begin to turn this state around when it comes to domestic violence.  I’m grateful to those whose personal testimonies continue to inspire, enlighten and educate us, and to my House and Senate colleagues, who’ve given so much of their time, talents and energy to this effort.

So when questions concerning restoration of gun rights for abusers, out-number questions concerning restoration of peace, safety and quality-of-life for the abused, all of us should get “heated.”

While our DV bill is far from finished and certainly not perfect, it is progress.

And if it can help save even one life, isn’t it worth it?

Mia McLeod represents District No. 79 in the South Carolina House of Representatives.

Pic: Travis Bell Photography

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