U.S. State & Federal Government Using Tragedy for Legislation

Dion McNeil

September 11, 2001, is a date that will be remembered in the United States of America. Many people lost their lives. Firefighters, First Responders, Police Officers, and others, have various health concerns as a result of exposure to Ground Zero. That day was when the United States felt both unified and vulnerable. Airport screenings and National Security concerns are currently being treated with a lot more scrutiny than before September 11, 2001.

As a result of the attacks, the United States Government declared war in two separate countries including Iraq and Afghanistan. History bears witness to the fact that life and treasure were lost in those conflicts. The Patriot Act was presented to the American people as a means of keeping track of dangerous individuals such as the terrorists who carried out the September 11th attacks.

The promise was that the spying would only be conducted when it was necessary and wouldn’t run afoul to the U.S. Constitution.

The Patriot Act allowed the U.S. Government to spy on its citizens and citizens of other countries. Both the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan have cost the lives, mental health, and physical health of U.S. War Veterans, Iraqis, Afghanis, etc. An unprecedented amount of unmanned aerial strikes were conducted on targets without the direct approval of congress.

For example, President Barack Obama routinely ordered drone strikes on Libya in 2011 without the approval of Congress. After the Sandy Hook Elementary shooting in 2012, President Obama wanted to bring back elements of the 1994 Assault Weapons Ban that would, among other things, ban so-called “assault weapons.” He claimed that the Founding Fathers didn’t anticipate “assault weapons” as they had muskets at the time. The Founding Fathers also gave Congress the power to declare war and probably didn’t envision a President such as Barack Obama ordering drone strikes on foreign soil.

A passenger being dragged off of United Airline Flight

Airport security has a reputation for being a little more aggressive and intrusive than needed. That kind of airport security aggression led to events such as the United Airlines’ situation featuring a man being roughed up. The United Airlines event caused international outrage. Bottles of liquid have to meet certain requirements to be taken onto a flight. Security checks at airport terminals are more strict.

The airport security issue in the U.S. and U.S. war activities describe governance that will justify extreme action to fix temporary problems. Whenever there is a mass shooting in the United States one of the most predictable responses is a call for more gun control.

Some may not understand why some supporters of the 2nd Amendment see this as an issue. If every time a mass shooting occurs more gun control is sought after then eventually gun rights would be non-existent. If every time there is a violent incident at an airport the response is to make airport security stricter then there will come a point where some passengers would get uncomfortable and rights would be violated. If every time someone attempts to obtain Tannerite fertilizer in an attempt to make an explosive that the response is to ban fertilizer then, surely, this wouldn’t follow the path of liberty.

Some South Carolina politicians don’t appear to understand that enacting legislation during a time of panic is never a good idea. Lindsey Graham, U.S. Senator from South Carolina, supports red flag laws. Senator Graham is a Republican so the support of 2nd Amendment infringement legislation came as a shock to some Republican voters. These sorts of gun control measures are illegal under the U.S. Constitution.

Other S.C. Legislators such as Rep. Todd Rutherford (D-Richland County) supports gun control measures in response to tragic events.

S.C. Rep. Todd Rutherford

In February 2019, Rep. Rutherford got into a heated exchange with Rep. Gary Smith (R-Greenville) about transgender stage performances in libraries. An example of the type of performance Rep. Smith took exception with is the Drag Queen Story Hour where a colorfully dressed drag queen reads stories to children. Rep. Rutherford supports the Free Speech rights of those who want to be a drag queen and read books to children.

Yet, in 2015, Rep. Rutherford claimed that a florist should have to provide flowers for a wedding featuring a homosexual couple. If Rep. Rutherford had his way, legislation that he would provide based on his beliefs would be unconstitutional based on the precedent set by the U.S. Supreme Court Case Masterpiece Cake Shop V. Colorado Rights Commission. One would think that a Legislator who also happens to be a lawyer would understand that the U.S. Supreme Court is the highest in the land.

Just like the two examples above, there are S.C. Legislators and Mayors who are supporting unconstitutional actions. The latest examples were in response to COVID-19. Columbia, S.C. Mayor Steve Benjamin ordered a curfew that, for now, lasts from 11 P.M. to 6 A.M. Other South Carolina Mayors are considering the same types of curfews. This curfew was ordered even though the Centers for Disease Control (CDC) has never suggested martial law or a curfew.

It would appear that Mayor Benjamin ordered this curfew that mirrors elements of martial law of his own accord without direct suggestion from the CDC.

S.C. Rep. Peter McCoy

S.C. Democrats are not the only ones who stand in opposition to the U.S. Constitution. S.C. Rep. Peter McCoy (R-Charleston) has not only supported gun control bills but has also been against open-carry. An example of Rep. McCoy’s support for gun control is when McCoy voted against H.3456. It was claimed that the Freedom Action Network of South Carolina Facebook group had threatening content directed towards Rep. McCoy for not voting for the bill as a Republican. Although it was determined there was no threat to Rep. McCoy, police watched over his home.

On multiple occasions, S.C. Legislators like Rep. McCoy have stood against legislation that would provide more rights and access to firearms and other liberties. Those liberties such as the right to bear arms would prove useful in a situation such as when Rep. McCoy felt that he was being threatened for standing against an open-carry bill.

Sometimes, it isn’t just what S.C. Politicians attempt to do with a tragedy or major event being a justification. There are times where it is what these politicians don’t do or want during those same times which is interesting.

Yesterday, S.C. Rep. Josiah Magnuson (R-Spartanburg) announced on his Facebook page that his proposed amendment to H.4014 was shot down by S.C. House. Rep. Magnuson’s amendment to the bill would have guaranteed that the S.C. governance and law enforcement would honor rights and protections already guaranteed under the U.S. Constitution.

The amendment appears to be focused on protecting the Constitutional Rights of South Carolinians during the COVID-19 National Emergency Declaration. Rep. Magnuson’s amendment would have potentially given Columbia Mayor Steve Benjamin cause to pause before ordering a curfew. Gun rights in South Carolina would be protected unlike Chicago where a gun ordnance is being proposed where the sale or the act of giving any firearm would be prohibited.

According to Rep. Magnuson, a fellow S.C. Republican, Rep. Gary Simrill (R-York), along with a Democrat, didn’t provide him with an opportunity to explain why he wanted that amendment.

An example of where Rep. Magnuson’s amendment to H.4014 would help is if there were a Chinese styled government that suppressed free speech. One of the suspected reasons why the COVID-19 outbreak went unchecked by the world governments is the suppression of speech by the Chinese Government upon it’s people. In other words, if that suppression aided in the unchecked spread of this virus then it is important that during any tragedy that citizens can speak freely.

CNN Columnists such as Jill Filipovic claim President Trump’s reference to COVID-19 as the “Chinese Virus” is racist and could promote violence against Asian-Americans then perhaps Rep. Magnuson’s amendment is needed.

Here is a quote from the CNN opinion piece:

“Pandemics are frightening because you can’t see a virus. Throughout human history, rampaging illnesses have regularly been blamed on some outside force, from God sending down a pestilence, to — more often — unfamiliar outsiders or unpopular minorities allegedly bringing in disease, along with other traditions and practices that the dominant group is quick to deem dirty or morally wrong. European Jews were blamed for the Black Death and massacred.”

Since Filipovic and others claim that the President’s words can cause violence towards a particular group of people then the securing of 2nd Amendment rights becomes even more important. For example, during the 1992 L.A. Riots that were sparked by the Rodney King incident several Korean store owners in L.A. were targeted. Sa-I-Gu (Four-Two-Nine in Korean) is an event where Korean store owners were specifically targeted for violence due to differences in culture, attitude, and retaliation for a shooting incident.

In March 1991, Soon Ja Du, a store keeper, shot and killed a 9-year-old black girl named Latasha Harlins after Soon suspected the girl of shop-lifting. Soon was convicted of voluntary manslaughter but served no jail time, was given six months probation, and paid a $500 fine. Many in the L.A. black community were outraged. Much of the violence directed at Korean Americans in Los Angeles stemmed from numerous incidents of injustices.

Korean store owners in Los Angeles banded together with firearms to protect their stores, homes, and their families. South Korea has mandatory conscription for two years. Therefore, these Korean Americans were trained in the use of firearms. Police were stretched thin as the riots were some of the worst demonstrations of mass violence in American history. There were obviously injuries and the total estimated damage was over one billion dollars. The Koreans couldn’t rely on the police to help so they used their 2nd Amendment right to protect themselves.

The result of this was footage of Koreans shooting guns and an internet meme known as “Roof Koreans.” Just as those Korean Americans relied on their 2nd Amendment Rights to protect themselves during a violent incident the citizens of South Carolina need their rights to protect themselves and for the government to protect them.

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