I am no fan of Nikki Haley, that’s been quite clear on this bloggy thing, given that she often does nothing, and then when she says she’ll do something, she finds a reason to change her mind.
I still remember when she was running for reelection, and there was a whole dust-up about infrastructure and crumbling roads in South Carolina and Governor Nikki said she had “a plan;” a plan she would reveal after inauguration day, which meant, “Elect me and I’ll tell you what I’m gonna do, but not until then.”
She won; no plan. Big surprise.
But there was a surprise last when Haley signed a domestic violence reform bill — passed by both our House and Senate — that took a huge step forward in protecting victims of domestic violence, and punishing batterers.
South Carolina has a glorious history of being one of the Top Ten — sometimes Number One — states where women suffer abuse, battery and death at the hands of men.
“A huge statement is being made today and that is that South Carolina is no longer thinking about the convenience of the abuser. South Carolina is thinking about strengthening the survivor.” — Governor Nikki Haley
Even our own Attorney General, Alan Wilson, who is still seeking a way to deny marriage equality to gay and lesbian South Carolinians because, apparently, no one told him he’s already lost that battle, lobbied lawmakers to give prosecutors the tools needed to lock up repeat offenders and get others into treatment.
Still, the bill had quite a rough go of it, before Nikki inked it into law last week, but, after the release of the Post and Courier’s Pulitzer Prize winning series “Till Death Do Us Part,” which revealed that more than 300 women had been killed by husbands, exes and boyfriends over the past decade in South Carolina, state lawmakers vowed to get tough on abusers … finally.
First, the Senate passed a bill that focused on giving abusers fewer second chances — um, howsabout No Second Chances? — by making it easier to send them to jail and taking away the worst offenders’ guns; but that’s where the GOP got their gun nuts twisted.
A handful of Upstate lawmakers objected to what they called a “gun grab” saying it violated the Constitution because, you know, when a man threatens a woman with a gun, you should give it back to him so that when he threatens her with it again, he can follow through and kill her as is his God-given Republican Constitutional Battle Hymn of the Republic American Right!
But two Republican senators — Larry Martin and Katrina Shealy — overcame the opposition; Martin, to his credit, called the gun ban essential, while Shealy made an emotional plea to colleagues, relating how her sister nearly was killed by her abusive husband.
But the House had its own ideas about how to combat domestic violence and, led by Republican Representative Shannon Erickson, they steered clear of banning guns from abusers in favor of talking to children in schools about domestic violence. Of course, there was never any clear indication of how telling Little Johnny that domestic violence was bad would save his mother from an abusive husband or boyfriend, though.
And though most people realized that the GOP’s alternative seemed to favor the batterers over victims,, and with the House and Senate passing separate, different bills in the final weeks before the Legislature adjourned, the promise to reform domestic violence laws was running out of time.
Until House Speaker, and Republican, go figure, Jay Lucas, forged a compromise that resulted in a bill that, while some said was weakened, still retained the gun ban and stiffened some penalties, and recognized the importance of changing the cultural aspects of domestic violence in this state.
It might be a weaker bill, but at least it’s a step forward in not only protecting women from domestic abuse and battery in South Carolina, but it also is a small step toward legitimate and serious, and thoughtful, gun control in this state.
So, for today, for right now, I am a little proud of Governor Haley, and of some … some … Republicans in this state who put lives ahead of guns for once.