- Associated Press - Tuesday, March 4, 2014

Recent editorials from South Carolina newspapers:

March 3

Aiken (S.C.) Standard on conceal-weapon permits:

The new concealed-carry law recently passed in South Carolina has been a hot-button issue since the day it was passed.

The law allows concealed-weapon permit holders to carry guns into establishments that serve alcohol. That provision of the law, in itself, is one that can be debated at length.

But a lesser-known aspect of the law, written about at length in a story in Monday’s edition of the Aiken Standard, goes beyond the realm of debatable and into the territory of downright scary.

Before the new law was passed allowing permit holders to carry guns in places that serve alcohol, anyone who obtained a concealed-carry permit in South Carolina had to undergo an eight-hour training course.

Now, under the new law, the length of the concealed carry training course is up to the instructor, as long as the permit applicant passes the state-mandated written test and a 50-round qualification course. If the applicant does that, the instructor can sign the certificate, and a resident can carry a concealed weapon almost anywhere, including bars …

Even though that’s a bit more understandable piece of the law, it still can leave a large training gap. For both groups, the training they received regarding weapons use is much different that what would be applicable in a civilian world.

Yes, there is more to be cautious about now that we have a law allowing permit holders to bring guns into bars. But the additions tacked onto the bill - provisions most South Carolina residents weren’t even aware of when they supported the bill - are what makes this new law downright dangerous.




March 4

The Times and Democrat, Orangeburg, S.C., on the Ukraine and Russia:

Any worry that Russian leader Vladimir Putin had about the image of Russia before, during and after the Winter Olympics is long gone. The upheaval in neighboring Ukraine has the Russian leader showing his true colors to the world.

The Russia of 2014 may not be the Soviet Union of 25 years ago, but Putin is no less an autocrat and no less interested in his country being considered a superpower than any Soviet president.

Putin appears determined to bring the former Soviet republics back into the fold, whether as formal parts of Russia or as unquestioned allies over which Russia exercises control. None is considered more important than the Ukraine.

With Putin now using military power and other arm-twisting to take over the strategic Crimea, it is likely only a matter of time before the rest of the Ukraine is next. And there is nothing that the United States and the West are prepared to do about it, at least militarily. Though Republicans such as South Carolina U.S. Sen. Lindsey Graham are right that the Obama administration’s response to date has been weak, no one can envision a scenario in which forces from this country or any other attempt to intervene with Russian military action in the Crimea, in the Ukraine or, in reality, anywhere in what was the former Soviet Union.

The West’s most potent weapon, however, is not a military threat. It is the reality of what economic sanctions against Russia would mean. This is not the world of the 1980s when the Russian economy was insulated; this is the global economy of 2014 in which Russia is a player. Putin could win militarily and lose big time in the bigger picture.

That is why he would be wise to look for an alternative that gives him the control he wants while ratcheting down the military pressure …




March 2

Sun News, Myrtle Beach, S.C., on senior citizen protections:

The movie “Nebraska,” one of the Best Picture nominations in the 86th Annual Academy Awards this evening, is about a senior citizen’s determined quest to collect the $1 million he thinks he has won in a sweepstakes. It is a poignant story and so true to the real-life experiences of many whose parents have been the victims of all manner of scams.

In real life, of course, the exploitation of seniors often is much more serious than a misleading announcement of sweepstakes winnings. S.C. Lt. Gov. Glenn McConnell, whose responsibilities include the Office on Aging, has proposed legislation called the Senior Trafficking and Exploitation Reform of 2014.

In summary, the legislation “strengthens vulnerable adult abuse, neglect, and exploitation laws.” The legislation closes loopholes and addresses forms of abuse not defined in the current law. The legislation “beefs up punishment for anyone who attempts to threaten or intimidate a vulnerable adult or senior involved in an abuse-related investigation,” according to a summary of the bill. Senior citizens are defined as persons 60 years of age or older; a vulnerable adult is a person 18 or older who is impaired by a physical or mental condition.

In both Horry and Georgetown counties, the senior population increased significantly in the 10 years from 2000 to 2010. Hank Page, spokesman for McConnell, has the over 60 population in Horry at 65,841 and Georgetown at 17,020. The numbers are from the 2010 U.S. Census. Horry’s senior population increased 64 percent from the 2000 census, and Georgetown’s increased 49 percent.

The state’s 60 and older population was nearly 915,000 in 2010 and is projected to increase to 1.2 million in 2020, according to the bill. Projections of 2020 numbers for individual counties are not available.

The Omnibus Adult Protection Act of 2006 pertains to seniors in long-term care facilities or who are disabled but “does not protect the many seniors who are able to live independently.” The new legislation says “human trafficking of senior citizens is a growing problem, whether through deprivation of food and medication by a caregiver or placement in or transfer to a facility with unsafe and unsanitary conditions.”

In the reform legislation, “exploitation” includes specific language on causing vulnerable adults or senior citizens to purchase goods or services by means or “undue influence, harassment, duress, force, coercion or swindling by overreaching, cheating or defrauding.”

McConnell says of the legislation: “We want to send a clear message that if you intentionally set out to exploit or abuse a senior or adults with disabilities, you will get more than a slap on the wrist.”

A growing population of seniors probably means an increased number of people all too willing to cheat a segment of the overall population that is more vulnerable than younger adults.

The Senior Trafficking and Exploitation Reform of 2014 legislation deserves serious consideration in the General Assembly. We urge Grand Strand state representatives and senators to support it.



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