Tuesday, April 18, 2006

Announcing the Dick Cheney Ready, Fire, Aim! Award

The inaugural award in this category goes to South Carolina state legislator Thad Viers, (R) Horry County.

Earlier this month Mr. Viers acquired an AK-47 assault rifle given away in a contest drawing by a right-wing student newspaper at Clemson University (according to the story in the Myrtle Beach Sun News, Mr. Viers didn't win the drawing - the first two winners declined the weapon, and the third person picked gave it to Viers). Mr. Viers waxed enthusiastic about his new toy:

Viers was in the woods near the Anderson-Greenville county line on Friday getting the required range training that came with the prize.

"It was great today," Viers said. "I got the NRA-certified instructor, he showed me how to use it. I never shot one before.

"It was one of those guns that you've heard a lot about in movies and stuff and now they're legal to own. This is going to be my sixth gun."

Although Mr. Viers has heard a lot about his AK-47 "in movies and stuff," he thinks "some of the movies like 'Rambo' and some of the other ones have given (the AK-47) a bad name." Indeed, Hollywood never shows how an AK-47 can be really useful for wholesome sports like deer hunting. You know, if you need to fire 600 rounds per minute into a deer, the AK-47's your weapon.

According to Mr. Viers, as quoted by the Sun News , "You're not exercising your Second Amendment (rights) unless you own a gun."

I wouldn't be exercising my First Amendment rights if I didn't point out that Mr. Viers is a bit of a twit who, when he's not shooting his guns, can be found shooting off his mouth. Like when he had a hissy fit because a judge didn't rule his way: In 2003, Viers, representing some Horry County homeowners, sought to have the Horry County Zoning Board reconsider its approval of a proposed methadone clinic. Circuit Court Judge John Breeden issued an injunction blocking the zoning board from reconsidering its previous approval (subsequent to which approval the clinic's owners had spent $400,000.00 seeking a state permit to operate the clinic, according to an affidavit submitted to the court).

The judge issued his ruling in spite of a threat from Viers:

On Friday, when Viers learned the clinic was asking a judge to rule, Representative Viers said, "They forget in this state that I get to vote on the judges." [in South Carolina judges are selected by the legislature] He later said the comment was not serious and prompted by anger.

Before the hearing began, Breeden warned that "intimidation and veiled threats cannot be allowed," and he promised to "rule without fear or favor."

Ironically, and moronically, Rep. Viers is now sponsoring a dreadfully ill-considered piece of legislation that would dramatically interfere with South Carolina county governments' ability to make zoning decisions; it would force counties to pay property owners the value of whose property is reduced in any way by zoning. In other words, if this bill were in effect in 2003, and if Rep. Viers had gotten what he wanted from the Horry County Zoning Board, Horry County would have had to pay a truckload of money to the owners of the proposed methadone clinic. * (Google cached version of the zoning story as it appeared in the Sun News, from which quotes are taken, is here)

So that's a little background on the winner of the Dick Cheney Ready, Fire, Aim! Award. Enjoy your new assault weapon, Rep. Viers!

* FWIW, although I think the legislation in question is a terrible idea, it doesn't follow that I think the court's decision in the methadone clinic case was wrong. In that particular case, the county had already approved the use, and the clinic's owners had apparently spent a great deal of money in reliance on being allowed to operate as permitted by the county. Which means, I think, that if Viers had had his way in 2003, the county might have wound up having to pay dearly, even without this bonehead legislation.


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