SC lawmakers propose legislation for fee on handgun purchases to - FOX Carolina 21

SC lawmakers propose legislation for fee on handgun purchases to fund SRO programs

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(File/FOX Carolina) (File/FOX Carolina)

Some Democratic lawmakers in Columbia are sponsoring legislation that would place a fee on handguns purchased in the state to fund school safety programs.

The bill, filed Thursday in the State House, would primarily fund school resource officers.  State officials said the cost of the program would be around $60 million.

"It's going to take a lot to put a resource officer in each school," said State Rep. J. Anne Parks of Greenwood, one the sponsors of the bill.

The legislation was initially part of the state budget earlier this year, but was voted down.

"We need resource officers in these schools, so these children can feel safe and protected," said Parks.

No lawmaker FOX Carolina spoke with denied that action needs to be taken on school safety, and there's almost universal support for placing an officer in every school.

State House Republicans, however, said the fee equated to a tax, and a potential constitutional issue.

"I don't believe punishing mothers out there that purchase a handgun to protect themselves from a domestic violence issue," said State Rep. Josh Putnam of Piedmont.

Putnam said the bill has more questions than answers, beyond the question of money and gun rights.

"Would it be kept in the area where the firm is sold?  How would it be distributed?" asked Putnam.

Putnam said the budget for the school resource officer program can come from other sources.

Sponsors said this bill is something that can provide a fix, but they are aware they have a fight ahead of them.

"Anything to deal with money is going to be a challenge," said Parks.

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