Rock Hill group grills lawmakers on guns, Obamacare

adys@heraldonline.comMarch 26, 2013 

— Republican members of York County’s legislative delegation told some of York County’s most hard-core conservatives Monday night that South Carolina will continue to fight against federal encroachment in gun laws and health care.

But the state representatives and senators at a town hall style meeting sponsored by an area conservative group cautioned that a reasoned approach is needed to fight such programs as the federal Affordable Care Act, often called Obamacare.

Audience members asked several questions about issues that are often brought up by so-called tea party conservatives, including school choice, but the conversation focused mainly on the two issues that are dominating debate not just here but across the nation – guns and Obamacare.

“Guns and nullification and Obamacare are most on constituents’ minds right now,” said state Sen. Greg Gregory, the Lancaster Republican who also represents Fort Mill. Other important topics such as ethics reform have taken a back seat to the public clamor.

About 60 people and most of York County’s Republican state legislators attended the meeting sponsored by the GPS Conservatives, a tea party group that has been active in recent elections.

The group’s president, Paul Anderko, said events like Monday’s are meant to educate people on what is going on with the current legislative session, but the group has targeted in past elections candidates who did not agree with their strict conservative views.

At the nexus of the concern from the audience Monday – and the panel of lawmakers – is a perceived attempted federal takeover.

Federal “overreach” must be kept in check, said state Rep. Tommy Pope, R-York, but the strict concept of nullification of Obamacare espoused by some conservatives – including the idea of arresting federal judges and others who institute reforms – is unconstitutional and wrong.

The best approach is to nullify parts of Obamacare by “non-compliance” – simply not enforcing it – said state Rep. Greg Delleney, the Chester Republican who is the sponsor of a less stringent nullification bill currently in the S.C. House.

“There are parts of Obamacare that are just not good for this state,” said Delleney, who represents much of southeastern York County. “We need to be smart about resisting Obamacare. Obamacare can collapse under its own weight if enough states resist it.”

Gun rights are under siege by federal officials and anti-gun lobbies using the Sandy Hook Elementary School shootings in Connecticut as a tool to take guns away from Americans, several of the elected officials said.

“Our Second Amendment rights are under attack,” said state Rep. Gary Simrill, R-Rock Hill.

Concern over a proposed law that would prevent doctors from speaking with patients about gun safety is not a problem with medical advice, the politicians said, but a worry that the law is an overt attempt by anti-gun advocates to inventory guns by backdoor means.

“This is an attempt to disarm the public,” Delleney said. “A free people have nothing to fear from guns.”

However, the lawmakers unanimously voiced concern over proposed legislation that would allow unlimited open carrying of guns without any training – often called “open carry” or “constitutional carry.”

There needs to be some training for gun owners, each of the elected officials who spoke said.

Andrew Dys •  803-329-4065

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