South Carolina state representatives Wendy Brawley (D) and Ivory Thigpen (D) have introduced legislation that would impose a 7-percent tax on gun purchases in the state, with the money earmarked for funding school resource officers. The move could generate nearly $22 million annually, although it is not supported by Gov. Henry McMaster, who took office nearly a year ago.
The representatives emphasized to WIS TV News, an NBC affiliate, the measure is not anti-gun. “The governor made placing an SRO [school resource officer] in every school in South Carolina—public school—a major campaign issue and we would hope that he was serious about that because this gives us a very good head-start toward getting toward that goal and we are hoping that he will support this and will encourage others in his party to do the same,” Rep. Brawley explained.
The governor’s office, however, issued the following response: “The governor has said before that we cannot tax our way to prosperity. New taxes or fees will slow economic growth and unduly burden the people of South Carolina. Governor McMaster was the first to start talking about the need for school resource officers last year in his state of the state address and secured more than $2 million in the final budget for a pilot program to begin the process of reaching his goal of having a certified law enforcement officer in every school, in every county, all day, every day. Reaching that goal is a matter of prioritizing existing funds—not simply taxing and spending.”
NBC affiliate WTHR reports the pair of legislators indicated that more than 600 of South Carolina’s public schools do not have an SRO. That figure, according to the South Carolina Department of Education’s estimate, is less than 400.