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S. Carolina GOPer Steve Long's Gun Giveaway

South Carolina GOPer Steven Long’s Gun Control Solution— Give Away Handguns to Teachers March 4, 2018

Yes, it’s great that teen agers, led by the Parkland, FL Stoneman High School gun massacre survivors are politically mobilizing. Yes, it’s great that this group and their many friends are pushing state and federal legislators for more firearms control. Yes, it’s great that they have vowed that they “are going to be the last mass shooting.” However, the fight for gun control will be one long battle. The approximately 4 million members of the NRA (National Rifle Association) and their allies have been more politically active than gun control advocates. Gun control advocates have been less likely to contact public officials. A 10/2017 Gallup Poll found that conservative voters are nine points more likely to say they would only vote for a candidate who shares their views on guns. Gun owners are also more likely than non-gun owners to only support candidates who share their stance, and to donate to groups that work on gun policy (huffingtonpost.com, Jeltsen & Bendery, 2/27/18, Weisser, huffingtonpost.com, 7/11/17). However, 4 million 17-year olds will turn 18 before the 2018 midterm elections, according to Shannon Watts, founder of the gun control “Moms Demand Action.” Watts is “very hopeful that they will vote on this issue (huffingtonpost. Com, Jeltsen & Bendery).” A recent Marist Poll also found that 77% of those polled want gun laws strengthened and that Dems are twice as likely as GOPers to say that guns will be a voting litmus test for them (huffingtonpost.com, Jeltsen & Bendery, 2/27/18).

The GOP, however, is betting, once again, that younger voters will not show up at the polls in 2018. “Team Red” is also betting that after a few weeks of outrage over this latest shooting massacre, the issue will “die down (no pun intended)” and any real gun control legislation will get blocked in the GOP-dominated House and Senate. Already, House Speaker Paul Ryan(R-WI) has stated that he isn’t “supportive” of proposals to impose new restrictions on gun purchases. In Ryan’s words, “We shouldn’t be banning guns for law abiding citizens (CNN, Walsh, 2/27/18).” Speaker Ryan, what “law abiding” citizens need AR-15s for hunting or any other “reasonable” purpose? And Demagogue Donald is now backing a “doozy” of a proposal that the NRA crowd loves. He argues repeatedly that more teachers should be armed to take down mass shooters, an idea overwhelmingly condemned by most educators. As National Education Association (NEA) President Lily Eskelsen Garcia aptly stated, “We need solutions that will keep guns out of the hands of those who want to use them to massacre innocent children and educators. Arming teachers does nothing to prevent that (CNN, Sanchez, 2/21/18).” Ask the students at GA’s Dalton High School how “secure” they felt when one of their teachers fired a handgun there on 2/28/2018 (huffingtonpost.com, Golgowski, 2/28/18). Despite all the protests and anger from teens, the NRA still holds more clout with Donald and his “Red” cronies. The NRA, not teenage gun shooting survivors, gave Trump’s 2016 campaign $30 million (2/28/18, NY Times, Shear).

Donald is not the only GOPer pushing to arm teachers. He has “Team Red” backers for this wacky idea on both the state and federal levels. Exhibit A—South Carolina Representative Steven Long. On 2/26/2018, Long announced he is hosting a drawing to give away handguns to teachers to show his support for the Constitution’s Second Amendment “right to bear arms” and for arming S. Carolina teachers. He plans to give away three Smith & Wesson 9mm handguns: one to a teacher, staff member or administrator at a K-12 school; one to a higher-education (college/university) staff member or administrator, and one to any other “freedom-loving patriot” who wishes to participate in the drawing. The teachers will also be given a gift certificate to earn their Concealed Weapons Permit (CWP) (goupstate.com, Montgomery, 2/26/18, stevelongsc.com, 2/26/18). Long argued, “We must do everything we can to ensure the safety of children in schools, both K-12 and our higher education institutions. Allowing teachers or school staff members to carry is the most efficient and most effective way to do this (goupstate.com, Montgomery, 2/26/18).” Meet Rep. Steve Long.

Steven Wayne Long (23) is currently serving his first term in South Carolina’s House of Representatives in that state’s 37th House District (HD). The 37th HD is located in that state’s northwestern part and takes in Spartanburg County, part of S. Carolina’s largest population area. The 37th HD is politically and culturally conservative. In 11/2016, Donald carried S. Carolina by a 14.2% margin (nytimescom/elections/results, 8/01/17). In State Representative Long’s Spartanburg County, Donald won by 30%, over twice this margin (politico.com, 2016 -election/results, 12/13/16).

Greenville, S. Carolina native Steven Long resides in the Spartanburg County town of Boiling Springs (U.S. Census Bureau, scstatehouse.com). While in Boiling Springs High School, he became an Eagle Scout and organized the Spartanburg Teenage Republicans. Long received a 2014 A.A. degree from Spartanburg Community College followed by a 2015 B.A. degree from the University of South Carolina -Upstate (scstatehouse.gov). In college, Long studied business administration and public policy and volunteered with various nonprofits. He paid for his college tuition by working in the industrial hazards materials industry. After college, Long became a licensed insurance and real estate agent. Long is a deacon in Boiling Springs First Baptist Church and active in the Gideons International. Gideons International is a group of Christian business and professional men and their wives that put Protestant Bibles in hotels and distribute these Bibles and New Testaments to others including the police, military, and students. They also “witness” for their faith (gideons.org, stevenlongsc.com, On The Issues).

On 1/11/2016, Long announced his candidacy for the S. Carolina’s 37th HD. In his announcement, highlighted by the Spartanburg Tea Party, Long declared, “As a conservative, I am concerned about the direction of our state.” Among the issues he mentioned was the “abhorrent butchery of the abortion industry.” He stated, “We need bold leaders to stand up for what is right and won’t kowtow to pressure from the left (spartanburgteaparty.com).” Long’s platform consisted of eliminating “burdensome regulations and taxes.” He further added that the Second Amendment explicitly states that the “God given right to bear arms shall not be infringed (Long, “On The Issues”).” Long and his Tea Party backers claim they believe in the “strict construction and original intent of the Constitution’s framers.” However, Long has apparently added new words and meaning to the Second Amendment. Nowhere in that amendment does it say that the right to bear arms is “God given (See U.S. Constitution, Amendment II).” Such talk comes from the NRA playbook, not the Founding Fathers. Long’s platform also states that “Biblical and scientific evidence makes it abundantly clear that “life begins at conception, no exceptions (Long, “On the Issues”),” very debatable issues in the religious and scientific world. Long additionally declared marriage is between “one man and one woman, and it’s important to protect the family unit (Long, “On The Issues”).” With NRA, Tea Party, and Religious Right backing, Long clobbered his GOP primary opponent by a 31% margin and routed his Democratic rival in 11/2016 by 39.4 points (SC House, Dist. 37, 2016 Republican Primary, NY Times, 8/01/17, Daily Kos, Sutherland, 2/27/18, Montgomery, goupstate.com,2/26/18).

In the S. Carolina House, Rep. Long supported bills that allowed the state to roll back marriage equality laws. One of those extreme anti-marriage equality bills that Long backed was introduced on 2/5/2018, the day after the Parkland massacre. It called any marriage not between a man and a woman a “parody marriage (thestate.com/news/politics).” Long endorses prayer in schools, I guess to protect everyone from all the guns he wants teachers to use (See Kos, Sutherland, 2/27/18). In a tweet, he parroted the NRA line that the only thing that stops a bad guy is a good guy with a gun (Long, 2/26/2018 3:57 tweet). Epic fail! Several FL officers with guns just stood outside during the Parkland massacre. In his tweet, Long blames the Democrats for not wanting guns around in schools and only being for prayer when a shooter shows up. Long claims, as does the NRA, that 98% of all mass shootings occur in gun free zones, pro-gun “research” that has been labeled as flawed by many academics (politicfact.com,washingtonpost.com).

Long, a holder of a concealed weapons permit (goupstate.com, 2/26/18), has no concerns about his handgun giveaway plan. He has previously cosponsored the constitutional right to carry a weapon and a bill to allow real estate agents and their clients to carry a firearm when showing or viewing properties (thestate.com, Feit, 2/26/18). Apparently, “Mr. firearms expert” Long does not understand that one handgun can’t stop an AR-15 shooter. Long could care less that there is little support even in S. Carolina among educators for arming teachers in classrooms. Two years before Long’s harebrained gun giveaway proposal, a bill that would have allowed teachers to carry guns in S. Carolina classrooms after a week of training gained little support (goupstate.com, Montgomery, 2/26/18). S. Carolina Education Association President Bernadette R. Hampton said teachers don’t want armed staff members in school. In her words, “We feel teachers have enough responsibilities as it is. That would be something else (guns) that would impede on what we love to do, to instill love of learning (goupstate.com).” Exactly.

Long’s Palmetto State House, despite these educators’ views, currently has five bills before it calling for teachers to be able to carry guns (huffingtonpost.com, Shapiro, 2/26/18). GOP Gov. Henry McMaster said he would sign a bill that would allow S. Carolina teachers to be armed (thestate.com, Feit, 2/26/18). Why be surprised? S. Carolina has a “Red” trifecta, a GOP Governor, a GOP Senate, and a GOP House of Representatives. The Palmetto State House currently has 79 GOPers v 44 Democrats. Long is no GOP outlier on guns, just another NRA true believer. Yes, since Trump has taken over in D.C., Democrats have flipped 39 state legislative seats, many in deep “Red” areas “Blue” in special elections all over the country (dlcc.org, 2/27/18, press release). However, we have a very long way to go. Besides controlling the Oval Office, House, and Senate, GOPers have 34 governors to the Dems 15. In addition to S. Carolina, GOPers control all three levels of state government in 23 other states, while Dems have complete control in just 7 (stateside.com/states/governors-legislatures-partisan-splits/, “The Hill,” Wilson, 8/03/17). It is probably not possible to recapture S. Carolina’s state legislature in the near future. Long will, no doubt, keep getting re-elected. However, with a “y uu ge” turnout on 11/ 06/2018, Dems can flip many of these other state legislatures and governorships as well as the House and Senate. Sane gun control and more progressive measures will then be able to get a hearing. Rep. Long and his NRA buddies’ irrational cries about arming teachers will then be rightfully ignored.