Wednesday, June 28, 2006

Thomas Ravenel For State Treasurer

Now that the primaries (and run-offs) are over, it's time to focus on the November elections. As a start I want to mention Thomas Ravenel, the Republican nominee for State Treasurer.

You may be wondering why I'd write about the office of State Treasurer. Well, other than the fact that this is my blog and I can write whatever I like.....

Thomas Ravenel is pro-gun. Ravenel actually ran for US Senate two years ago and based on questionnaires that I helped review, he is very much on our side.

Another reason I'm interested in State Treasurer is that I worked in that office from 1995-1999. I know what can be accomplished there with the right person. We did a lot during our tenure (even influenced a few gun related measures) and I'm convinced that Thomas can do the same and more.

Finally, I know Thomas Ravenel personally and I want to see him do well in politics. He has a future and knowing that, we really ought to support pro-gun folks at all levels. He might have little to do with gun issues as State Treasurer, but he could hold a different office later.

So, as time goes on I'll write more about Thomas and others who might not seem to fit the profile of elected offices we gun owners would normally care much about. I'm going to do my best to change that attitude and hopefully other gun owners will see the wisdom of having friends at all levels of government.

Andre Bauer Wins Big!

Our friend Andre Bauer prevailed yesterday in his bid for the Republican nomination for Lt. Governor. He defeated his opponent thanks in large part to support from gun owners and other grassroots supporters.

Andre asked me to pass along his thanks to all the gun owners who turned out to vote for him. He pledged his continued support and encouraged us to get involved with other campaigns to help elect pro-gun candidates at all levels.

Congratulations Andre and good luck in the November elections!

Wednesday, June 21, 2006

Lt. Governor's Run-Off Crucial For Gun Owners

It is very important for gun owners to turn out on Tuesday, June 27th, to vote for Andre Bauer in the run-off election for Lt. Governor. Andre is A+ rated by the National Rifle Association which places him in a rare minority among elected officials. His record of support for gun rights is flawless. Andre is without question one of the best friends we've had in the last decade.

Andre Bauer is a close personal friend. I have spent many hours discussing gun issues with him and he is a true believer in the Second Amendment. He knows guns and he is a shooter. He even hosted several CWP courses that I taught for him at his business.
Again, there is no greater friend of gun owners than Lt. Governor Andre Bauer.

In April, Andre Bauer was our special guest at the annual Mid-Carolina Friends of NRA Dinner in Columbia. This was the eighth or ninth time he's attended this event. He spoke for several minutes and thanked NRA and GOSC for our past support. He has been there for us and now we need to show up for him on June 27th.

Over the next few days NRA members in South Carolina will be receiving phone calls recorded by NRA-ILA's Chris Cox. Please listen to what Chris has to say about Andre Bauer. Also, you may receive a postcard and/or e-mail from NRA-PVF regarding the Bauer endorsement. All of this should be an indicator to you as to who is the best candidate for gun rights. In fact, here is what NRA-PVF had to say in a recent press release:

For Immediate Release For More Information

June 20, 2006 NRA Public Affairs (703) 267-3820

NRA - PVF Endorses
Lieutenant Governor Andre` Bauer
for Re-Election in South Carolina

Fairfax, VA-The National Rifle Association Political Victory Fund (NRA-PVF) has endorsed Lieutenant Governor Andre` Bauer in South Carolina’s runoff election Tuesday, June 27, 2006.

"Law-abiding gun owners in South Carolina have a true friend in Lieutenant Governor Andre` Bauer," said Chris W. Cox, Executive Director and Chairman of NRA - Political Victory Fund (PVF). "We are pleased to endorse him for re-election, because we know he will continue to protect the Second Amendment and help preserve the shooting sports for future generations."

Andre` Bauer received an A rating and NRA endorsement in his first election to South Carolina’s State House in 1996 and A+ ratings for both his election to the State Senate in 1999 and his election as Lieutenant Governor in 2002.

While in the senate, he worked with NRA to pass legislation protecting shooting ranges, preempting reckless lawsuits, and reforming Right-To-Carry laws. As Lieutenant Governor, he supported NRA’s successful effort to repeal the one-handgun-a-month restriction, as well as the recently passed “Emergency Powers Protection Act” and “Castle Doctrine” bills. Lieutenant Governor Bauer has also pledged to continue his support for NRA efforts to improve South Carolina’s Right-To-Carry reciprocity.

Cox continued, "As one of South Carolina's finest public servants, Andre` Bauer has been a steadfast advocate for gun owners, hunters, and the Second Amendment. His pro-gun stance has earned him another A+ rating and endorsement of NRA-PVF."

“We ask every gun owner to vote for Andre Bauer June 27th,” concluded Cox. “South Carolinians value their right to own firearms, and Andre` Bauer is the right man to represent them.”

--nra - pvf--

Sunday, June 18, 2006

NRA/GOSC Lead SC Gun Rights Out of Stone Ages

Two years ago NRA/GOSC did something EXTREMELY rare in the gun rights arena. We managed to repeal a BAD gun law. When we turned back the one handgun/thirty day law we effectively eliminated a law that dated back to the stone ages.

Okay, it really only dated back to the 1970's, but this guy was popular then, so the analogy is not totally off base. The point is, we took the strong initiative to improve things for all gun owners by doing away with a silly, ineffective, and pointless law.

In the past law enforcement officials here allowed gun phobic rabble rousers from New York City (New York City! Git a rope!) to dictate how we regulate gun sales. According to the tenuous and unproven theory, guns bought is SC were being re-sold to street criminals in New York City.

Of course, this was a ridiculous notion, but for nearly thirty years law abiding gun owners in the Palmetto State were inconvenienced simply to appease a few misguided Yankee hand wringers.

Thank goodness, NRA and GOSC were able to convince SC lawmakers of the sheer lunacy of continuing down the stone age path we were on.

Thursday, June 15, 2006

Relationships Key to Legislative Success

The National Rifle Association and its state affiliate Gun Owners of South Carolina have enjoyed great legislative success in recent years. In fact, since leading the way on right-to-carry in 1996 we have had numerous other major victories. Range protection, reckless lawsuit protection, one handgun/thirty day repeal, castle doctrine, and emergency powers have all been NRA/GOSC initiatives.

In addition, GOSC led the way on negotiating expanded reciprocity (we worked with the NC and SC attorney's general to secure a reciprocal agreement). And we worked directly with Governor Sanford in helping ease some of SLED's arbitrary permit issuing standards. We also were consulted on numerous CWP friendly AG's opinions issued over the last few years.

Why is GOSC the "go to" group in South Carolina on Second Amendment issues? Well, aside from the obvious advantage of being associated with the premier gun lobby organization, we have worked diligently here at home to develop relationships and to maintain a positive image among elected officials and decision makers.

One example of our relationship building activities is the Legislative CWP training we've conducted over the last two years. Working through Rep. Mike Pitts and with the sponsorship of Ellett Brothers in Chapin, GOSC has presented three CWP training classes for dozens of legislators, legislative staffers, and even a few friendly lobbyists. Current GOSC president Jerry Stoudemire and I taught these classes.

As a result of this one initiative we had allies in key areas to help with our two main issues this year. Mike Pitts has said that our classes did more to educate legislators on our issues than any number of postcards, letters, or phone calls could ever accomplish. The legislators who took our class were primed and ready to help. Some even introduced good gun friendly bills on their own as a result of what they learned and observed in our classes.

For example Rep. Catherine Ceips has become not only a good friend, but also a strong female voice for the right to keep and bear arms. She introduced this year a bill that would have required judges who issue orders of protection in connection with criminal domestic violence to notify the victim of the availability of a concealed weapons permit. And Catherine even took it one step further. Her bill required SLED to issue permits to such victims on a immediate emergency basis. Unfortunately, Catherine's bill did not pass. She is not deterred, however, and will re-introduce it next year.

Another of our students, Rep. Billy Witherspoon concluded that 8-hours is far too long for the required CWP training (he's right). So, Billy promptly introduced a bill cutting the time to 6-hours. We didn't have sufficient time to devote to this bill given our other priorities, so it'll also be re-introduced next year. After talking to Billy at a Sportsmen's Caucus Sporting Clays shoot (we were teamed together) I think he's agreed to cut it to an even more reasonable 4-hours of training.

It's clear that our strategy works. As the leaders of the pro-gun movement in South Carolina, GOSC will continue to build relationships and move forward in making improvements that benefit all gun owners in South Carolina.

Monday, June 12, 2006

NRA-ILA's Chris Cox Thanks Governor Sanford and Pro-Gun Legislative Leaders

On Friday, June 9, Governor Mark Sanford (R) signed two prominent National Rifle Association (NRA)-backed bills into law. The "Castle Doctrine" self-defense bill protects the rights of innocent victims to protect themselves from criminal attack, while the "Emergency Powers Protection" language prevents local governments from confiscating firearms during a state of emergency.

"I want to thank Governor Mark Sanford for signing these critical victims' rights bills into law," said Chris W. Cox, NRA's chief lobbyist. "When you're confronted by a criminal, you don't have the luxury of time. The "Castle Doctrine" bill states that if victims choose to stand their ground and fight, their decision will not be second-guessed by the State of South Carolina."

"Furthermore, the breakdown of civil order in New Orleans during the aftermath of Hurricane Katrina demonstrates that Americans' rights to keep and bear arms are especially important during a state of emergency. S. 1261 ensures that local governments will be unable to restrict law-abiding citizens' use, sale, or transportation of firearms during such difficult times."

H. 4301, the "Castle Doctrine" self-defense bill, simply states that if a criminal breaks into your home, your occupied vehicle or your place of business, you may presume he is there to do bodily harm and you may use any force necessary against him. Furthermore, this law provides protection from criminal prosecution and civil litigation for those who defend themselves from criminal attack.

S. 1261 was originally introduced to allow qualified Right-to-Carry permit applicants who live outside the Palmetto State to be issued permits if they own land in South Carolina. It was amended in the House, however, to include the language that bars the ability of local governments to restrict the use, sale, or transportation of firearms during a state of emergency.

The "Castle Doctrine" bill passed unanimously in both the state house and senate. South Carolina joins ten other states who have signed similar legislation into law this legislative cycle.

S. 1261, with the "Emergency Powers Protection" language, passed by a vote of 109-1 in the house and was ratified unanimously by the State Senate. Seven other states have enacted such legislation this year.

"On behalf of all NRA members in South Carolina, I want to thank Governor Mark Sanford for signing these important bills into law. I'd also like to thank Representative G. Murell Smith (R-67) for his leadership in passing "Castle Doctrine" through the legislature, Representative Mike Pitts (R-14) for his commitment to seeing the "Emergency Protection" language become law, and Senator Danny Verdin for his efforts with both bills in the Senate," concluded Cox. "Both of these bills are about putting the law back on the side of the victim, the way it's supposed to be."

SC Violent Crime Rate: It Just Keeps Going Down

The FBI stats are out and two of South Carolina’s largest cities have registered significant drops in violent crime. SLED's statewide report is also due out soon and I’m sure the news media will trot out a crime "expert" from the Columbia PD to credit "community policing" for the drop, but we know the real reason..... more guns in good hands equals less violent crime. It's that simple.

Don't believe me? Well maybe you'll believe a liberal research professor named John Lott, from the University of Chicago. Lott's the kind of guy the news media normally loves, but unfortunately he tells the truth, so they ignore him.

In his book “More Guns, Less Crime” Dr. John Lott decisively proves wrong the politically correct idea that modern concealed weapons laws are bad for society. In fact, Lott’s exhaustive research confirms my notion that good citizens carrying legally permitted guns are bad for criminals, but good for the rest of us. He proves this by analyzing crime statistics from 3,000 U. S. counties over a period of 18 years.

While Lott’s book is lengthy and boring (he is a professor), the facts are astounding. It shows that every time "shall-issue" right-to-carry laws are enacted, the crime rate (especially for violent crimes like murder, rape, robbery) immediately goes down significantly. And the rate continues to drop over time. Most compelling is the fact that the decrease in the crime rate is always proportional to the number of permits issued.

Causing me to again ask…..Who knew?

Saturday, June 10, 2006

Availability of Guns Decreases Crime Rate

When I worked for former Attorney General Charlie Condon we often noted that beginning about 1997 the violent crime rate in South Carolina began to drop. In fact, every year when we'd get the crime reports from SLED and the FBI we found that (on average) the violent crime rate dropped about 7% per year.

Every year the so-called experts would speculate about the reason(s) for the drop in the violent crime rate. And every year we'd laugh about it because the news media and the criminal justice "experts" never quite got it right. We knew the primary reason was the nearly 25 fold increase in the number of citizens with concealed weapons permits.

The truth is, in 1996 we sent the violent crime rate into a spiral with the passage of the "Law Abiding Citizens Self-Defense Act". Criminals got the message, more guns equals a major impact on their ability to prey on defenseless citizens. As former Rep. Jeff Young put it "now the sheep have guns too".

In 2001 my friend (and boss) Charlie Condon added more ammunition to our arsenal. In the wake of a rash of home invasions across the state, he issued a policy statement to help deter further problems. He made it very clear: "Invade a Home, Invite a Bullet". And it worked. Following this announcement the number of home invasions dropped to near ZERO.

Here is an article written by Larry Pratt of Gun Owners of America on the AG's policy. Charlie's announcement made national news. It even aired in a segment on the CBS news program 60 Minutes after we enforced the policy in defense of a home owner.

Well our view that more guns, backed by a solid right to self-defense really does mean less violent crime was reinforced again this week with the release of a new report. This report shows that while the number of guns in the hands of Americans has increased, the crime rate and firearms accident rates have fallen sharply. Who Knew?

Friday, June 09, 2006

Other NRA Endorsements for Primaries

In addition to Endorsing Governor Sanford and Lt. Governor Bauer the NRA-PVF has made the following endorsements for the primary elections on Tuesday, June 13th:

Bill Whitmire (R) District1 - Oconee County
Jeff Duncan (R) District 15 - Laurens & Newberry Counties
Adam Taylor (R) District 16 - Greenville & Laurens Counties
Ted Vick (D) District 53 - Chesterfield County
Phillip Lowe (R) District 60 - Florence & Sumter Counties
Skipper Perry (R) District 81 - Aiken County
Thomas Rhoad (D) District 90 - Bamberg, Barnwell, & Orangeburg Counties
Richard Chalk (R) District 123 - Beaufort County

All but one of these House candidates are incumbents. The sole exception is Phillip Lowe who is running for the seat left vacant by the retiring Marty Coates.

NRA members in each of these districts should be receiving phone calls, e-mails, postcards or a combination of all three. Also, postcards and/or e-mails concerning Governor Sanford and Lt. Governor Bauer.

Thursday, June 08, 2006

Governor Sanford Signs Gun Bills

Governor Sanford today signed two important pro-gun bills. I learned just this afternoon that the Governor signed both our "New Orleans/Emergency Powers" and our "Castle Doctrine" bills. This is great news for gun owners and we should all thank Governor Sanford for his support.

Although not directly related to today's good news, it's important to note that Governor Sanford is A rated by the National Rifle Association and he is endorsed for the Republican Primary on June 13th. Sanford has an overall good record on gun issues during his four years as Governor and certainly during his years in Congress.

In fact, in addition to the two good bills he signed today, Governor Sanford also worked two years ago with NRA/GOSC and signed the repeal of the outdated "One Handgun/Thirty" law. He has also worked to expand reciprocity on concealed weapons permits. Under his leadership the number of states recognizing South Carolina issued CWPs has nearly doubled.

Wednesday, June 07, 2006

Andre Bauer Endorsed By NRA
The National Rifle Association endorsements are out for the June 13th Republican Primary and a proven, pro-gun advocate has again received the nod for Lt. Governor. That's right, current A+ rated Lt. Governor Andre Bauer has again been endorsed by NRA.

As most long-time SC gun rights advocates know Andre has been endorsed every time he's run for office. He is among the most reliable statewide officials when it comes to gun owner rights.

Andre is a gun owner, shooter, and CWP holder. He has attended several GOSC Annual Meetings and received multiple awards/recognitions from both GOSC and NRA. Just last month he was a special guest at the Mid-Carolina Friends of NRA dinner in Columbia.

Our friend Andre faces a tough opponent in Tuesday's elections, so it is imperative that we get out and vote.

Be sure to vote for Andre Bauer in the June 13th Republican Primary for Lt. Governor!