- Associated Press - Tuesday, March 11, 2014

Recent editorials from South Carolina newspapers:

March 9

Herald-Journal, Spartanburg, S.C., on stand your ground law repeal:

State Rep. Harold Mitchell and much of the Legislative Black Caucus are backing a bill that would repeal South Carolina’s “stand your ground” law. The bill should provoke a necessary discussion on whether state law appropriately discourages violence.

Mitchell, D-Spartanburg, wants to change the Protections of Persons and Property Act, which was passed in 2006. That law included a provision that gives South Carolinians the right to “meet force with force, including deadly force” whenever they feel threatened in a place they have the right to be.

In other words, someone who feels threatened does not have an obligation to flee a conflict. He or she can use deadly force.

It sounds reasonable, allowing people to defend themselves against attackers, and it passed the General Assembly overwhelmingly. But it has had some disturbing applications.

In 2011, a real estate agent informed the owners of a vacant Spartanburg home that a homeless man was staying in the house. The owners got guns and went to the house to confront the man. They said the man attacked them, so one of them shot him in the face.

In 2012, a man and his girlfriend returned to the man’s Spartanburg apartment to see two men breaking in. The man got out of the car with a gun and confronted the burglars who took cover behind an air conditioning unit.

The man killed both, shooting them in the head at close range. He was not charged with the killings due to the stand your ground law, but he was later sent to prison on a federal charge of being a convicted felon in possession of a gun.

In each of these cases, citizens decided to create a confrontation with criminals that resulted in violence.

Lawmakers need to make sure South Carolinians have the right to defend themselves. But they also need to look at the law to make sure it isn’t creating an atmosphere in which people are too willing to take another’s life.

Responding with deadly force should always be a last resort. Avoiding the confrontation should be the preferred course. And retreating, if possible, is better than killing.




March 7

Aiken (S.C.) Standard on looking for job creation via higher education:

A new generation of high-tech manufacturing is undoubtedly emerging, but if South Carolina can’t keep pace with that transformation, the state’s economy will be left in the dust. That’s the unnerving reality that a recent study from the University of South Carolina reveals about our state’s future.

The study - released by the university in November 2013 - notes that by 2030, our state will have a shortfall of about 44,000 workers holding two-year degrees and about 70,500 workers who hold bachelor’s degrees or higher.

The report also notes that the percentage of a state’s population with a college degree is the single best predictor of its national ranking in personal per capita income levels. Without a trained workforce, the economic gains that South Carolina has made in recent years will certainly erode.

Companies such as Bridgestone and MTU America in Aiken County thankfully have a formula that’s working - cultivating workforce development programs that help to sustain the region’s economic stability.

The jobs at Bridgestone, for instance, provide good pay and a benefits package that includes medical, dental and vision insurance, a 401K plan, as well as a tuition match for those who want to continue their education.

Both companies have received praise and recognition for their forward-thinking job development initiatives.

When companies locate to an area, they typically search for employees that fit the skillsets for those jobs. Those businesses need to know they can find workers in the area.

Lawmakers in Columbia need to appropriately fund higher education and allow administrators to foster the right academic environment. That combination can help schools provide the graduates who will fill the creative and leadership positions for businesses in our state.




March 10

The Herald, Rock Hill, S.C., on state’s immigration law shot down:

South Carolina officials have acknowledged that several parts of the state’s immigration law went too far in an attempt to crack down on undocumented immigrants. It should be clear that, for both legal and practical reasons, the state now should leave enforcement of most immigration laws to the federal government.

On March 3, the state accepted an opinion that much of its law, including portions that allowed local police to check people’s immigration status, were unconstitutional. While S.C. Attorney General Alan Wilson said he would continue to weigh his legal options, he conceded the state’s defense of several parts of the law would not succeed.

Some parts of the law will survive. For example, a part of the law that went into effect in 2012 that requires businesses check the legal status of new hires through the so-called E-Verify system, will be permitted to remain in place.

But the courts struck down the most controversial parts of the law, including on-the-spot status checks by local police. Under the law, known as S.B. 20, local police could check the immigration status of people if a “reasonable suspicion” existed that they were in the country illegally.

But the court ruling said it was unconstitutional for police to extend regular traffic stops or jail stays so officers could determine the immigration status of suspects. In other words, once an officer has completed a traffic stop, the stop should come to an end.

Other aspects of the bill were nixed because, the court said, South Carolina’s law inappropriately criminalized activity that should be up to the federal government to regulate. That mirrors similar rulings in other states that say enforcement of immigration laws essentially is the responsibility of the federal government, not the states.

If our immigration laws need to be changed, Congress should do it.



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