COLUMBIA, SC (WIS) - Allow me to be frank.
Columbia and Richland County have a serious violent crime problem.
There wasn't one incident of gun violence in Five Points all last year according to Mayor Steve Benjamin, but what happened last weekend was startling - three innocent bystanders who were out having a good time became some of the latest victims of local gun violence.
But it's not just Five Points. More than that, our violent crime problem is worse than that of any other major urban area in the Carolinas.
Take a look at the 2015 statewide crime stats from SLED. Richland County is number one by a large margin, and that includes crime stats from Columbia.
And if you think there's more violent crime per capita in Charlotte, you'd be wrong. Richland County also tops Mecklenburg County by a significant margin.
We can argue all day about what's behind this violent crime problem, but the fact is, it has to change. That's why we have to commend Columbia City Councilman Howard Duvall for getting the ball rolling by trying to do something.
A couple months ago, as a way to reduce crime, he proposed closing city bars no later than 2 a.m.
A few days ago, the city drastically changed his ordinance; the new plan wouldn't close bars at 2 a.m. but it would make bad-behaving bars subject to bigger penalties, costly suspensions, and it would give police more control.
In other words, let's punish the bars attracting crime and bad behavior, not the ones doing things right.
It's our position that the City of Columbia should look at passing that ordinance or something similar because what's the worst it can do?
That's my take, what's yours?