Fees on handguns proposed to make SC schools safer
COLUMBIA, SC (WIS) - South Carolinians are split on whether an extra fee on all handgun sales in the state is a good idea, to pay to put a police officer in each public school that doesn't already have one.
The bill filed in the State House is backed by a dozen Democrats; Rep. Wendy Brawley (D-Richland) filed the measure, H. 5182, to charge a 7 percent fee on every handgun sale to pay for officers.
"We thought that this was a way to make certain that that happens without taking one gun away and without posing any new restrictions on existing gun laws. This just adds a 7 percent fee," Brawley said.
This comes as school safety measures and gun control are debated across the nation. Governor Henry McMaster (R- SC) has implored state lawmakers to allocate the dollars from the general fund next year to pay for full-time officers in schools that do not already have them.
However, the money still hasn't been set aside for that as he requested. Brawley says this is a solution. The Department of Education says nearly half of public schools have at least one full-time officer now.
WIS-TV asked people how they felt about the newest idea.
"People feel strongly about guns and gun rights and they're not going to stop buying their guns, so put the taxes on it, put the officers in our schools and make sure our kids are safe," Aminah Hamilton said.
"The legislature is always willing to put taxes on things. I'm sure the concept is good to pay for officers in schools the problem is, I don't think the money is going to go to pay for officers in schools," Walker McKay said.
One handgun store owner, who wished not to have his name revealed, told WIS the idea is a "knee-jerk reaction" to school safety needs following the Parkland, Florida, shooting on Valentine's Day.
The store owner feared it would only push people to circumvent the fee by purchasing guns online or in other states, and that it would further punish the person who lawfully tries to buy a handgun and make it harder for the average person to afford it.
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