Bennie Swans, chairman of the Horry County Democratic Party, today renewed a call for sensible gun legislation in light of the mass shooting in Orlando – the worst mass shooting in U.S. history.
“Tragically, the horrific shooting in Orlando just highlights many things we Democrats have been talking about for years now. We aren’t talking about taking guns away from anybody, or preventing hunters from hunting, or shop owners from defending themselves. But there is no good reason to own an assault rifle like an AR-15 equipped with a high-capacity magazine. That’s just plain foolish. And it’s even crazier to allow someone, even an American-born American citizen who is on the Terrorist Watch List or a No-Fly List, to buy one legally. As several newspaper reports have said, the AR-15 has become the ‘weapon of choice’ for mass shooters. We have to do something about that. It’s not a sporting firearm; it’s not a self-defense weapon. Let’s work to break the cycle of these mass murders and community gun violence that snuffing out lives of so many of our love ones. Enough is enough.”
“I am deeply saddened when I hear my gun-toting NRA members make false claims, saying for seven years that President Obama is coming to get their guns. Well, President Obama has sure done a lousy job at rounding up those weapons. No, Hillary isn’t coming for your guns either, any more than Obama did. And no, the U.S. Army has failed miserably to occupy all the Wal-Marts in Texas during Operation Jade Helm 15 or declaring martial law there. Look, we have to stop listening to these silly arguments and paranoid persecution fantasies, and we have to stop allowing them to twist and distort the very legitimate debate on sensible gun legislation we need, and I underline the word ‘sensible.’ Most of all, we have to stop letting the NRA frame this debate. Once upon a time they were a sensible, responsible organization. But over the past few decades, they’ve become a small, radical, rabid group of people at the top, broadly supported by millions of smart, careful gun owners who actually don’t share many of the NRA’s views.”
Swans, 66, is almost uniquely qualified to discuss assault rifles, more than most people. As a young platoon leader of a gun squad in Tây Ninh Province, Vietnam, he carried an M60 machine gun in the 1st Air Cavalry Division (Airmobile) in the U.S. Army. On a combat patrol on June 5, 1970, he suffered gunshots from machine-gun fire, destroying nerves in his right hand and arm. He underwent surgeries at the 106th General Hospital, Kishini Barracks, Yokohama, Japan, and further rehabilitation at Walter Reed Army Medical Center in Washington, DC. During his seven months of combat service and nearly continuous firefights with North Vietnamese regulars, Swans earned a Purple Heart, three Bronze Stars and three Silver Stars for bravery and heroism.
According to a study in 2012, even 71 percent of rank-and-file NRA members support prohibiting people on terrorist watch lists from buying weapons, along with 80 percent of non-NRA gun owners.
“I have no problem with hunters,” Swans said, “and no problem with store owners. No problem with reasonable home protection. I have no problem with collectors, target-shooters, skeet-shooters, ranch owners shooting varmints. But there is no good reason to own an AR-15 and other kinds of assault rifles, and no reason to equip one with a high-capacity magazine or clip. The very name is a clue: Assault rifle. Who are you going to assault? Orlando just showed us the problem with high-capacity magazines, and it showed us the fallacy of all these people walking around with carry-permits thinking they are going to take down some bad guy. In Orlando it took 11 armored SWAT guys and three deputies to take this one guy out, and they needed to crash through a wall to do it, so some Rambo-wannabe with a .38 in his belt isn’t going to get the job done.”
“There are plenty of perfectly sensible Republicans in our state legislatures and in Congress, and they CAN work with Democrats to get some sensible and reasonable enforcement in place. But they have to stop cowering in the face of the NRA. They’ve got to man up and get the job done. On our side of the aisle, we’re willing to help. But this mindless opposition to sensible legislation, that’s just got to stop.”