Back in the 1930s, a reporter asked Texas Lt. Governor Coke Stevenson why he supported having the Texas Legislature meet every two years instead of every year. Stevenson replied, “The more the damn legislature meets the more damn laws they pass.” Texas still has the once every two year sessions.
South Carolina’s General Assembly has one of the longest sessions in the nation for a state its size. Because of the extra time on their hands, the General Assembly has come up with off the wall legislation from time to time. Recently, such legislation was introduced in the South Carolina Senate.
With the worst unemployment rate in the South, with the Department Social Services in disarray, with the state facing the possibility of releasing thousands of prisoners early, with our public education system in dire need of real reform, the South Carolina Senate took on the pressing issue of novelty lighters. Republican Senate heavyweights Thomas Alexander and Jakie Knotts backed the measure.
The supporters of this all important legislation cite the support by some firefighter groups and some safety advocate groups. The supporters further contend that novelty lighters seem like toys to children and thus children are more likely to set fires with them. The State newspaper reported Alexander as contending that one third of fires started by children were started with lighters. However, apparently Alexander did not say what kind of lighters. Also, Alexander cited there were 2 deaths related to such lighters. Chances are more people died from stubbing their toes on furniture last year; do you suppose the State Senate should ban the sale of furniture without rubber bumpers?
If a parent has a novelty lighter that looks like a toy, then as a responsible parent that individual should keep the item out of the hands of the children. It is not the state of South Carolina’s responsibility to be the nanny. This is another example of how government, at all levels it seems, gives parents a pass on not doing their jobs.
With real problems and real crimes being committed, it is baffling that Republican State Senators would advocate adding going after novelty lighter merchants to the burdens of already underfunded law enforcement in the state. It is even more baffling that the argument to ban novelty lighters is based upon one of the premises gun control advocates use to call for banning handguns.
I grew up in a home with a novelty lighter, (it was a knight in armor), and guns. My parents had the sense to keep me from either when I was too little to know not to do something, and made clear to me how not to handle either when I was old enough to understand.
Alexander and Knotts are doing what usually liberal politicians do. Instead of holding human beings responsible for their actions, they instead blame a tool. It is easy politics. It does not offend irresponsible parents, or punish bad kids; it instead lifts the blame from them and places it upon an evil tool. Further, like any good politician, Alexander and Knotts will work to make sure government rides to the rescue of the irresponsible from the evil that is the novelty lighter.