Last week, this news outlet ran a column from Dr. Rachel Wisnefski – a member of the local elected school board in Beaufort county, South Carolina. Entitled “Gun-Free Zones Endanger Both The Public And Their Elected Leaders,” the piece was provocative.
Specifically, it elicited a flood of comments here and on social media – as well as a mainstream media report from The (Hilton Head, S.C.) Island Packet, Wisnefski’s hometown paper.
Wisnefski’s point? That elected officials with valid concealed weapons permits (CWPs) should be allowed to pack heat in public meetings – especially if the public board on which they serve lacks law enforcement protection (a move Beaufort county’s school board was contemplating because some of its members didn’t like the “image” of a police presence).
It is currently illegal under S.C. Code of Laws § 23-31-215(m)(4) for elected officials who are also lawful CWP holders to carry their firearms into public meetings. As a law-abiding CWP holder, Wisnefski argued that failing to amend this statute – coupled with the potential removal of law enforcement from the room – “would leave a public meeting absent any means of protection.”
In other words, she and her fellow board members would be sitting ducks.
That is not a situation this young mother of three is comfortable with …
(Click to view)
“I’m not planning on not coming home from one of these meetings,” Wisnefski (above) told Island Packet reporter Rachel Jones.
Our thoughts on all of this?
First and foremost, we published Wisnefski’s column because our news outlet has an open microphone policy. Whether we agree with a viewpoint or not, our job is to facilitate conversations within the marketplace of ideas.
Having said that … we agree with Wisnefski.
Obviously, far too many local elected officials in South Carolina are nothing but smash-and-grab thieves. Or spineless sycophants covering for the thieves. Or clueless do-gooders who allow themselves to be used by the thieves and their sycophants.
Are any of these the sort of people we want to weaponize? No … especially considering the extent to which many local leaders in the Palmetto State are already prone to bullying and abusing their authority.
Having said that, we have a hard time getting around the basic public safety issue raised by Wisnefski. We have an even harder (impossible) time getting around her constitutional right to protect herself.
Not to mention the well-documented folly of “gun-free zones.”
Another legitimate issue? Questions raised by certain Beaufort school board members about the cost of security (taxpayers are currently billed up to $8,000 a year for the service of deputies with the Beaufort county sheriff’s office).
Bottom line? There are no easy answers here, but in an increasingly dangerous world (in which criminals openly flaunt gun laws) we believe law-abiding CWP holders like Wisnefski should not be denied the right to defend themselves.
What do you think? Vote in our poll and post your thoughts in our always-engaging comments section below …
South Carolina public officials should ...
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