South Carolina lawmaker Rep. Mike Pitts, R-Laurens, has sponsored one of the most idiotic bills you’ve ever heard of.
Pitts, who is angry at the way gun issues are being reported, wants every journalist in the state to be registered with the government.
“It strikes me as ironic that the first question is constitutionality from a press that has no problem demonizing firearms,” Pitts said. “With this statement I’m talking primarily about printed press and TV. The TV stations, the six o’clock news and the printed press has no qualms demonizing gun owners and gun ownership.”
What’s ironic is the misguided idea sacrifices the First Amendment to promote the Second Amendment.
Pitts has already said he has no expectation that his bill ever make it into law, which only tells me that he is wasting his time and our taxpayer dollars so he can tell people he doesn’t like some news reports.
As a gun owner and unregistered journalist working in South Carolina, I don’t agree with everything I read about guns either, but you can bet I will defend the rights of journalists to report on the issue.
Bill Rogers, executive director of the South Carolina Press Association, said he found the bill bizarre and he planned to lobby hard against it.
Bizarre is putting it politely. This is just a bumble-headed idea that has done nothing to advance the conversation on gun control, but instead has started a huge conversation on how nutty South Carolina politics is.
“Any registration of journalists would be unconstitutional — unless you lived in Cuba or North Korea,” Rogers told The Associated Press last week.
You may remember Representative Pitts from headlines he made last summer as he opposed the push to remove the Confederate Flag from South Carolina’s Statehouse grounds after the slayings of nine black parishioners at Emanuel AME in Charleston.
He said his opposition was motivated as a stand for state tradition, not anything related to racial issues.
Whatever Pitts’ motivation is for throwing out the First Amendment, it seems like a far stretch to link it to a handful of news stories he doesn’t like.
Messing with any of our Constitutional rights is something that really needs to be thought through. Perhaps a better way to go about this would have been to, say, talk about guns and gun issues, which we should talk more about.
What Pitts and I do agree on is that guns deserve great respect.
This is something I learned early growing up, although I didn’t go hunting until I was about 16. And it was years later that I first became an actual gun owner. Today, my children own their own firearms, and we enjoy shooting as a family on a regular basis. To them gun control means a steady hand, and that the only real safety mechanism is keeping your finger off the trigger.
Here’s the thing: We need more conversation about hot button issues — racial injustice, responsible gun ownership, domestic violence, etc. But limiting who can say what about these issues is just wrong thinking. Again, we need more conversation, not less.
David Kennard is the executive editor of Summerville Communications, which publishes the Berkeley Independent, Goose Creek Gazette and Summerville Journal Scene. Contact him at email@example.com or 843-873-9424. Follow him on Twitter @davidbkennard.