Horry County GOP censures Lindsey Graham for supporting post-Uvalde gun reform bill

·3 min read

The Horry County GOP has censured U.S. Sen. Lindsey Graham for his support of a sweeping legislative package that promises stronger background checks and major investments in school-based mental health programs.

In a three-page resolution approved by the party’s executive committee Aug. 1, county Republican leaders say Graham’s summer vote for the bipartisan Safer Communities Act was a “conscious and deliberate violation” of the state’s platform. Party officials announced the censure in an email sent to The Sun News on Saturday.

Graham was part of a 20-member working group assembled shortly after the May 24 Uvalde, Texas, Elementary School shooting that left 19 children and two adults dead.

On June 21, Graham explained why he favored the act. Among its provisions:

  • Expanded background checks for people under the age of 21 wanting to purchase firearms

  • $11 billion for mental health services including school-based programs

  • A five-year firearm purchase ban for people convicted of domestic violence misdemeanors or felonies in dating relationships

  • $750 million worth of state grants to implement red flag laws

“I believe the legislation announced today has a very good chance of saving lives while at the same time protecting the rights of responsible gun owners. Unless you’re adjudicated mentally ill or a convicted violent criminal, your Second Amendment rights won’t be affected,” Graham said through his office.

The Senate approved the act 65-33 on June 23. Graham was among 15 Republicans to vote for it. His colleague, Tim Scott, opposed it.

The censure says inclusion of so-called “red flag laws” and other policies aimed at limiting access to firearms betray GOP principles.

Red flag laws allow law enforcement, with a court order and at the request of a family member or police officer, to take away weapons if someone is believed to be a threat.

Graham acquiesced “in the name of bipartisanship or perhaps his own independent agenda” to help further a “radical left cultural Marxist agenda and the weakening of the Republican brand” by voting to support the legislation that President Joe Biden signed on June 25.

State GOP officials couldn’t immediately be reached for comment Saturday, but the party’s platform encourages “personal responsibility for the care and use” of firearms and endorses their use for all “lawful purposes.”

Gov. Henry McMaster said last month his office is reviewing methods to reduce gun violence in South Carolina but did not provide details.

“The question is, What is the best thing to do that would work that would not violate the Second Amendment? Because that Second Amendment is real clear and you have a constitutional right (that) the government cannot take it from you,” McMaster told reporters on June 2 following an event at the Lexington Chamber and Visitors Center.

Graham, who in 2020 won a 92% NRA approval rating, said sending the Safer Communities Act will save lives.

“My goal from the start was to have a constitutional system that can intervene in time to stop unstable, mentally ill from obtaining firearms and killing innocent people. The legislation is not perfect, but we must not let the perfect become the enemy of the good,” he said.