SC governor wants tougher sentences for repeat violent criminals

(Lauren Petracca/The Post And Courier via AP)

In much of the country, a violent criminal will be arrested and potentially back out on the street in a matter of hours. It’s entirely possible, even likely, that this has contributed to the surge in violent crimes we’ve seen over the last couple of years.

The truth is, though, one tried and true way to reduce violent crime is to keep violent criminals locked up. That’s especially true of recidivists.

In South Carolina, the governor has some thoughts.

In many cases, paying for dinner or a movie will cost you more than it would to bond out of a South Carolina jail, even if you committed a violent crime.

It’s something Governor Henry McMaster wants to change, but not everyone agrees on his plan.

Step one in the governor’s plan: close what he calls a revolving door for violent criminals by calling for no bond.

Senator Sandy Senn said that should have happened years ago.

“Certain bondsman are taking advantage of that and actually doing what is sort of like an insurance kickback or a loan kickback. These guys are able to get out ridiculously cheaply,” she said.

The governor also proposed increased penalties for illegal gun possession, mandatory minimum sentences, and no bond to deter juveniles from getting guns. Senator Senn has proposed similar changes in the state legislature.

Now, I get the thinking about keeping people accused of serious violent crimes locked up. I understand where McMaster is coming from on that one.

I can even understand increased penalties for illegal gun possession and trying to deter juvenile offenders from getting guns.

My problem with those is that it’s still a case of blaming the gun, not the individual.

Would our crime problems somehow be better if all these homicides were committed with hammers? Would that somehow make our communities safer? Of course it wouldn’t, yet when you blame the gun, you’re taking the human part out of the discussion, but that is where the problem actually lies.

Now, McMaster isn’t proposing what many of us would term as gun control. Don’t get me wrong here, he’s explicitly targeting those who are breaking existing laws already and trying to punish them more severely. I get that and I understand the thinking.

On some level, I can even support it.

But I just can’t help but think that this is still an anti-gun mentality.

Again, it’s not gun control, but it’s still pretending that the gun, in and of itself, represents some significant part of the issue. No, the issue is and has always been violent criminals. By focusing on the tool used and not the tool using it, McMaster may well be feeding into the idea that guns are the issue.

That makes it more difficult to convince people that it’s not the gun which, by extension, means they’re more likely to embrace gun control.

The blame here needs to be squarely on the violent criminals who are rampaging through our society. This lawlessness needs to be addressed, obviously, but it needs to be addressed in such a way that the blame rests solely on those who are being, you know, violent criminals.

I honestly believe that ground exists and we should be pushing that. McMaster does a fair bit of that, too, with mandatory minimums and making sure people don’t bond out for less than the price for a tank of gas. I think we need more solutions along those lines, rather than perpetuating the idea that guns are somehow evil.

Again, I don’t think that’s the goal here. I just don’t think this is going to stop people from thinking they are.