SC Lawmaker: Journalists Should Have to Register Like CPL Holders

   01.21.16

A South Carolina State Representative drew both criticism and support after he recently filed a bill that would require journalists to register with the state, much like concealed carry permit holders. According to Mike Pitts (R-Laurens), he conceived the bill after noticing that the national media continued to demonize gun owners and the Second Amendment.

“The issue for me is more on national journalism all the way down. Every time I turn around, there’s a spin on the Second Amendment,” Pitts told the Index-Journal.

Under the bill, journalists would have to register with the Secretary of State’s Office under a “Responsible Journalism Registry.” The Secretary of State would then have to create a list of criteria to determine what qualifies a person to be a journalist, a process that is similar to the state’s application for a concealed weapon permit. Unregistered journalists that continue to work would be fined a $25 to $500 fee and cited with a misdemeanor.

However, political analysts say the bill has a very unlikely chance at passing, and the South Carolina Press Association promised to fight the proposal if it even receives the slightest amount of support. Pitts is unfazed, and says that the bill is mostly symbolic. He told the press that his intention in introducing the bill is not necessarily for it to pass, but to provoke a debate.

Which Constitutional Amendment is more important, the first or the second? Pitts says that both are equally important—and both should be treated as equally untouchable.

“It strikes me as ironic that the first question is constitutionality from a press that has no problem demonizing firearms,” Pitts told the Post and Courier. “With this statement I’m talking primarily about printed press and TV. The TV stations, the six o’clock news and the printed press has no qualms demonizing gun owners and gun ownership.”

Pitts argued that the if the First Amendment, which protects the freedom of speech, religion, press, and other rights is seen as absolute, the Second Amendment should not be viewed as simply a “privilege.” Many agreed with this view, but others criticize Pitts for what they say is the frivolous introduction of a bill that is blatantly unconstitutional.

What are your thoughts?

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