SC lawmakers propose 7 percent gun fee for added security in schools

Published: Jan. 4, 2019 at 8:27 AM EST
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COLUMBIA, SC (WIS) - With the General Assembly back in session beginning Jan. 8, we’re taking a look at some of the proposed legislation up for debate.

Two Democrats in the House of Representatives are proposing a new 7 percent fee to every gun sale in the state, with proceeds going towards school resource officers. WIS-TV reached out to the Department of Education, which is reporting there are less than 400 public schools without School Resource Officers. In a data report from 2018, 366 schools out of 1,203 that reported indicated that they do not have school resource officers. The remaining schools either have full-time or part-time SROs.

Rep. Wendy Brawley of District 70, and Rep. Ivory Thigpen of District 79 are behind this new proposal set to be discussed in the Ways and Means Committee.

It’s estimated that this proposed added gun fee will generate another $22 million in revenue each year, which Brawley and Thigpen say could help provide more safety in our schools.

They also say this is not anti-gun legislation, and are hoping to gain support on both sides of the aisle.

“The governor made placing an SRO in every school in South Carolina – public school – a major campaign issue and we would hope that he was serious about that because this gives us a very good head-start toward getting toward that goal and we are hoping that he will support this and will encourage others in his party to do the same,” Rep. Brawley said.

Rep. Thigpen says, “A life is precious and in this climate that we’ve seen more and more school-related mass shootings, we cannot idly stand by and do nothing.”

WIS reached out to the governor’s office, and received this response:

“The governor has said before that we cannot tax our way to prosperity. New taxes or fees will slow economic growth and unduly burden the people of South Carolina. Governor McMaster was the first to start talking about the need for school resource officers last year in his state of the state address and secured more than $2 million in the final budget for a pilot program to begin the process of reaching his goal of having a certified law enforcement officer in every school, in every county, all day, every day. Reaching that goal is a matter of prioritizing existing funds – not simply taxing and spending.”

Rep. Thigpen says this is a way for people to do something positive with the right to bear arms.

“We live in a state where people buy guns and people own guns. We’re not in any way saying that people shouldn’t do that. As a matter of fact, people have every right to. What we are saying is that we need recurring revenue and funds to provide the type of security and safety that our children need.”

The lawmakers behind this proposal say they fully anticipate push-back.

“We know that there’ll be some push-back. We are prepared for that, but this is a people’s bill. This is designed to help the most vulnerable population we have and that’s our children,” Rep. Brawley said.

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