County Councilman Whitley answers the reader survey on gun violence solutions
Editor’s Note: This week we provide our readers with responses from Berkeley County elected officials Councilman Josh Whitley, Supervisor Bill Peagler and Sheriff Duane Lewis to The Daniel Island News reader survey on gun violence solutions. While Whitley did answer the individual questions posed in the survey, Peagler and Lewis provided a general, overall response. Also in this issue, we provide answers from U.S. Senator Lindsey Graham’s office and from U.S. Congressman Mark Sanford (see page 33).
Supervisor Bill Peagler offered the following general statement in response to the survey, as provided by Hannah (Moseley) Moldenhauer, Berkeley County Government Public Information Officer:
“The tragedy in Florida is certainly on our hearts. While this is a very important issue, it’s also very complex. It cannot be simplified down to yes or no answers.
It’s important to note that SC law prohibits local governments from regulating firearms (title 23-SC code of laws). This starts in the Statehouse.
Because of this, Supervisor Peagler does not feel it is appropriate to take this survey.”
Sheriff Lewis’ response to the survey was provided by Mike Cochran, Chief Deputy of Berkeley County Sheriff’s Office:
“These are questions still being vetted in the media right now. We will enforce the laws as written though, so - if they change, we will follow them.”
Responses from Berkeley County Councilman Josh Whitley:
1. Do you support legislation that would ban the ownership of assault weapons like the one used in the Florida school shooting?
Josh Whitley (JW): No - I do not support an outright ban but do support constitutionally permissible legislation banning gun ownership for certain individuals.
2. Do you support legislation that would provide for arming classroom teachers? YES or NO
JW: I will defer to our legislators and school district leaders to make policy decisions regarding their schools.
3. Do you support legislation that would prohibit the sale of guns to people with a history of mental illness?
JW: I would not support a ban for persons “with a history of mental illness,” as posed in your question. However, I would support restrictions on ownership for persons with mental illness that are a danger to themselves or others and have had a due process hearing to determine the same.
4. Do you support any limitation on gun ownership? YES or NO
JW: Yes. See above. Further, I would support raising the age limit for gun ownership (except for law enforcement or military personnel) and more extensive background check legislation.
5. Do you think gun violence in schools and other public spaces can be prevented? If so, how?
JW: Yes. We are able, in large measure, to prevent violence in many governmental buildings and need to continuously strengthen the security of our school buildings to prevent these national tragedies.
6. Is there anything else you would like to add?
JW: The issues of your survey are to be decided by state legislators and Congress and not Berkeley County Council. We (elected leaders and the press) do a poor job of explaining to our constituents the relationship of various elected officials and their jurisdictions. It is confusing enough that Daniel Island is in the City of Charleston and County of Berkeley. Thus, I want to be clear that County Council has zero decision making power regarding the questions posed by The Daniel Island News. To the extent readers hold an opinion, and wish to express their opinions, our legislative leaders are our decision makers on this issue, and I appreciate Rep. Mace and Senator Grooms’ thoughtful answers in last week’s edition.