- Associated Press - Wednesday, June 29, 2016

Recent editorials from South Carolina newspapers:

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June 25

The Sun News of Myrtle Beach on the wheelchair beach service:

When the city of Myrtle Beach briefly dropped its free beach wheelchairs, the neighboring municipality of North Myrtle Beach started hearing concerns from folks who use North Myrtle Beach’s free beach wheelchair service.

“News travels fast,” says Pat Dowling, public information officer for North Myrtle Beach, who handled some phone calls from out of state. People had seen the Myrtle Beach announcement and, like many other visitors to and residents of the area, did not distinguish between the two cities, which are separate entities. North Myrtle Beach posted on Facebook an announcement that beach wheelchairs remained free. The post “was not meant as a swipe at Myrtle Beach.”

The geographic boundaries of Myrtle Beach and North Myrtle Beach don’t mean anything to many folks, and the similarity of the names adds to the confusion. Our two Grand Strand cities are not as easily separated in the mind as, for example, the Minnesota twin cities of Minneapolis and St. Paul, the state capital. Residents of some unincorporated areas such as Carolina Forest have U.S. Postal Service addresses of Myrtle Beach, adding to misunderstanding.

Beach wheelchairs are an important part of beachgoing for visitors and residents who need wheelchairs. When the city of Myrtle Beach announced it was dropping its free service, it swiftly heard from residents who were displeased that they would have to make arrangements for wheelchairs with private firms, instead of phoning the city and making a request. Mark Kruea, public information officer, described the service as “one of those that really fits the ‘above and beyond’ description.”

Free wheelchairs may be above and beyond what might be expected, but it’s always difficult to take away a free service. Renting chairs costs several dollars a day. Prices listed on websites suggest a seven-day plan costing $196 - $28 a day - is a typical cost. By the day, a typical rental is $45. Folks who have used beach wheelchairs without cost are not going to want to pay. Given the situation, Myrtle Beach did the right thing in swiftly restoring its free chairs.

“It made sense to let the private sector do that, but the public really liked the service that we were providing. We heard them loud and clear,” Kruea says. Now the city has ordered 12 new chairs and tweaked the service to have community service officers, not beach patrol officers, deliver the chairs. As Kruea says, “It would be nice to take the police department completely out of the picture.”

North Myrtle Beach encourages residents and visitors to pick up their wheelchairs at the Beach Services warehouse on 6th Avenue South. Delivery costs $25. Beach Services is part of Parks & Recreation. Sixteen wheelchairs are provided by the Pilot Club of North Myrtle Beach, and in the summer months, all 16 chairs generally are in service. The best days to call to reserve a chair are Sundays or Mondays. Chairs may be reserved for a maximum of a week and reservations may be made up to a year in advance.

North Myrtle Beach also is looking at beach access mats for the city’s several wheelchair access points. Many beach access areas have stairs, in both cities.

Having the Parks and Recreation Department handle beach wheelchairs makes a lot of sense, as does a delivery fee. Myrtle Beach should take a look at its northern neighbor’s beach wheelchair system.

Online: https://www.myrtlebeachonline.com/

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June 26

The Index-Journal of Greenwood on gun policy:

Emotions and politics seem to be why we cannot, as a nation, have sane, sensible, rational, calm debate about guns.

Instead, we somehow lump mass killings, gang violence, domestic violence, target shooting, self-defense, home-defense, fear of a tyrannical government, the Second Amendment, interpretations of the Second Amendment, the sanctity of the Second Amendment as it was written, et al into one giant stew pot, season it with unfettered emotional hot sauce and smother it in a political cream sauce that masks the issues.

Second Amendment purists cling to the fact the words say nothing about any types of restrictions on the right to bear arms. While they do not - at least not out loud - argue about the age restrictions placed on handgun owners, they refuse to consider any other types of restrictions that might well put a dent in the number of people killed in mass shootings in America. And they point to the fact - and, indeed, it is fact - that people who want to kill large numbers of other people have many other means to do so aside from the high-capacity rounds weapons.

They reason that if we restrict the types of guns Americans can have because those guns are sometimes (often, is more accurate) used to slaughter dozens of human beings, and allow them only to be in the hands of those serving in the military, then we must also restrict commercial jet liners to military use. After all, it was large commercial jets that were commandeered by terrorists and flown into the Twin Towers and the Pentagon, resulting in thousands of deaths.

Yes, yes. Jets can be used to carry out terrorist acts and mass killings. But since 9/11, our country has implemented many safeguards and restrictions that significantly lessen the chances of another such incident.

One can also argue that automobiles and 18-wheelers can be used as weapons in mass killings. Indeed, especially if outfitted with car bombs or the right mix of ingredients within a trailer. Really, the list of everyday objects that can be used in carrying out killings is long. But does that - should that - preclude frank discussion about America’s guns?

A reader pointed out recently that discussion seems to center on “military-style weapons” and there are misunderstandings about what constitutes such a weapon. Fair enough. He also points out that after-market devices are available that can, for example, convert an 8- or 9-shot capacity semiautomatic magazine into a twin-drum 100-round magazine. Perhaps a killer would buy a $500 handgun and outfit it with a $400 device that increases its capacity to kill. Perhaps rational discussion about America’s gun laws and regulations should include whether such after-market devices should even be legal.

Ah, but there we go again, you say. Fueling the fire of those who want to burn the Second Amendment into thin air. And there we are, once again, standing on either side of a polarizing line.

Yes, we believe it is possible to protect Americans’ Second Amendment rights while protecting many hundreds of Americans’ lives who will yet become victims in mass shootings because we cannot or will not come to the table and discuss an issue, much less attempt to reach a logical compromise.

And why is that? Emotions. And politics. Far better, isn’t it, that a Capitol Hill politician protect his chances of re-election than the lives of his fellow countrymen.

Online: https://www.indexjournal.com/

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June 27

The Times and Democrat of Orangeburg on the moped safety bill:

Nikki Haley’s libertarian leanings should not have prevented her from signing a moped safety bill.

The Republican governor said the legislation is government overreach, specifically the requirement that reflective vests be worn for nighttime driving and helmets be worn by those under age 21.

In a veto letter to the General Assembly, Haley said the restrictions for mopeds would exceed those for motorcycle drivers, although existing law does require helmets for bikers under age 21. People over 18 “should decide for themselves what they should wear for their personal safety,” she wrote.

The Haley veto was among those upheld by lawmakers when an override vote was blocked by a single senator after the House voted 69-33 to overrule the governor. In sending the bill to Haley two weeks earlier, the Senate approved 41-1.

Supporters of the legislation contend mopeds are among the most dangerous vehicles for people to drive, partly because there are no regulations. Moped drivers are dying because people can’t see them, especially at night.

As passed by lawmakers, the bill would require people to register mopeds and attach a license plate. Mopeds would still be exempt from property taxes and insurance.

The bill would bar moped drivers from traveling faster than 35 mph. It would require them to drive in the farthest right lane on multilane roadways and make it illegal for mopeds to be driven on highways where the posted speed limit is 55 mph or greater.

As important as the rider requirements are, an even more crucial aspect of the legislation is closing a loophole that means moped drivers at present cannot be charged with driving under the influence.

Mopeds for the first time would be defined as motor vehicles. For too long, drivers who have lost a license because of DUI have been able to drive mopeds legally because they require no license. And they can be drunk while driving the vehicles.

Sen. Greg Hembree, R-North Myrtle Beach, a bill proponent, told The Associated Press: “Literally, you can be stinking drunk on a moped and can’t be arrested.”

The bill would create a special moped license. People who lose their regular license, for whatever reason, could get the separate license, starting the point system over. But, importantly, a moped license could be suspended too.

“If that happens, we’re starting to lose sympathy for you. You’re going to have to be walking,” Hembree said regarding lawmakers’ desire not to remove mopeds as an option for getting to and from work for those who have lost a regular license.

Fifty people died on mopeds in South Carolina in 2015, more than double the number from just two years before in 2013. Already in 2016, 16 moped drivers and/or passengers have died.

If mopeds increasingly are going to be a reality of the road, there must be sensible regulations. When they return to Columbia in January, lawmakers should move swiftly to reintroduce the moped legislation and work with the governor to determine what it will take to get her signature.

Online: https://thetandd.com/

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