Bang, bang, shoot 'em up, destiny ...
Those Harry Nilsson lyrics in a song titled "Spaceman," had nothing to do with guns, but they could well have become a part of our state's reputation had the state Senate not wisely cast a rather resounding "no" vote last week, shooting down a bill that would have allowed South Carolinians to openly carry guns in public, no permit necessary.
Even Blacksburg, located in Virginia's mountainous western corner, years ago put an end to open carry during a festival known as Deadwood Days.
We have enough difficulty, here and all across the country, preventing the mentally ill from possessing and using firearms. Heck, sometimes we cannot even keep guns out of the hands of those who already have extensive criminal records, but some of our lawmakers wanted to recreate the Old West in South Carolina and allow people to openly carry guns.
A deterrent to crime, they believe. Well, certainly in some instances that would be true. No doubt. In others, however, it could well be an open invitation for a challenge that otherwise might not occur and might very well in disastrously. Imagine the person with a gun strapped to his side who is minding his own business, walking along a sidewalk in town. Someone, a troublemaker, a person who might not be the brightest bulb on the tree but whose machismo sometimes get the best of him, approaches the other person.
"You think you're something with that gun, don't you?" he says. "How tough would you be without it? Let's see how good you are."
He then pulls a gun from his pocket and before the other man can fully draw his weapon from his holster, a shot is fired, a man is dead and the other just might get away with a claim of self-defense.
Sound too far-fetched? We'll grant you, that scenario might not happen a great deal, but it is not out of the realm of possibilities. Nor is it out of the realm of possibility that a person intending to rob another will, upon seeing a sidearm, approach from behind and get the upperhand. Or at least attempt to.
It just seems more sensible, more reasonable that, first of all, people receive proper training before carrying a gun in public and, second, they be issued a permit to carry. Third, it is far better the legally armed resident carry concealed. It prevents challenges and keeps a weapon somewhat more secured by the person carrying. As for the criminals, they'll have to continue taking their chances on whether they're confronting someone who is or is not armed and might shoot in self-defense.
The average state resident who has training and a permit to carry a concealed weapon is not required to do much in the way of continuing education. He or she does not have to go to a range and practice any set number of times per year in order to carry.
If we really want to allow our residents to openly carry, then perhaps we should consider requiring they go through the same type of training as police officers and meet the same continuing education requirements as officers.
Meanwhile, let's work on ensuring guns are not getting into the hands of the mentally ill. That might make for a safer state than one in which nearly anyone of legal age and without a felony record can openly carry.