Monday, January 14, 2013
A week after the Sandy Hook tragedy, I wrote a column for the SC Press Association calling on the state’s politicians of both parties to act to see what we need to do to keep our children safe.
Since then, the response has been overwhelming – overwhelming silence and inaction from our politicians and overwhelming outrage about this silence from the citizens of our state.
It’s time for all of us to take personal responsibility and call on Gov. Haley and demand she lead…NOW. (More on how we can do this later.)
All over the country, our leaders are acting – all around one central question: “What must we do to keep our children safe?”
From President Obama to local officials in places like North Charleston, Myrtle Beach and Rock Hill, a national dialogue has begun. There are lots of different ideas and solutions being offered — some sensible, some controversial, and a few that are just plain nuts.. But here’s the point – all across the country, our political leaders are taking their responsibilities seriously by coming together to start a serious, no-holds-barred dialogue abut how we can keep our children safe..
All across the country, that is, except here in South Carolina, where the only sound coming from our state leaders is the studied silence of political cowardice.
Of course, a few have made some routine statements expressing regrets, but not one has called for a serious high level initiative to examine every aspect of the problem and determine what we need to do going forward – in our schools, with mental health, with gun laws, etc.
Everything should be on the table, but Gov. Haley and our other state government leaders – Democrat and Republican – have refused to even call the meeting. And while our politicians are silent, our citizens are outraged. We have received more responses from our last column than from the past year’s worth of columns combined. Here are just a very few examples from the flood of emails and postings on our SC New Democrats website:
Ruth – “I am appalled by the total lack of empathy expressed by political leaders here in SC… you don’t have to be anti-gun to express outrage over such a horrible act.”
Alice – “Please, what’s it gonna take?”
Vickey – “I lost my oldest son, 42, two weeks ago in Atlanta. He killed himself with a handgun that his roommate had purchased at a gun show. The roommate passed the background checks and kept the gun in a locker box in his bedroom. My son would never have passed a background check because he did have a long history of mental illness …We also need to increase funding for mental health especially identifying problem children and adults so that people like my son and Adam can be helped or stopped before they kill themselves or others.”
Carol – “…if our leaders refuse to do anything to stop another Newtown occurring, we should remember this when we vote. We need to keep those children’s faces in our minds when election time rolls around. Governor Haley already has the hacking debacle on her record. Does she want her silence on this issue to be added to the list?…How anybody who has children can remain silent is beyond my comprehension.”
Powell – “I continue to be amazed at the selfishness of those who refused to consider small changes that will decrease the number of gun deaths among our young people. Thank you for speaking out. We all need to hold ALL of our friends, acquaintances, and representatives accountable for the results of this selfishness.”
DJ – “As a former substitute teacher and a father who lost a child in tragic circumstances my question is — Why wait for the politicians? …TAKE ACTION’ petition to capture the mood of ‘the people’. Then bring that pressure to bear from that direction. Believe me, when politicians see that the tide of public opinion is flowing against them they will jump into action.”
DJ is right. It’s time for us to act.
Call Gov. Haley and demand that she convene a meeting of our state’s political leadership to deal with one basic question: “What should we do to keep our children safe?”
Her phone number is (803) 734-2100 and her fax is (803) 734-5167. There is a link on her Governor’s office website where you can send her an email.
We should contact all of our state elected officials, but Gov. Haley is the governor and it is time for her to lead.
It is time for all of us to tell her to start acting like a governor – she must take responsibility to act and act NOW.
Phil Noble is a businessman in Charleston and is President of the SC New Democrats, an independent group founded by former Gov. Richard Riley to bring big change and real reform to politics and government in South Carolina.