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Saturday, April 7, 2012

On snakes and guns in South Carolina

My Biology 102 class has been studying vertebrates over the past few weeks: fish, amphibians, reptiles, birds, and mammals. This is always a fun unit because the students are more familiar with this group of organisms than the invertebrates, plants, and microbes.

Most semesters, I have "experts" in the class--someone is an aquarist, fishermen, or students with birds, dogs, cats, or lizards for pets. This semester, my class expert is a part-time employee at the SC Aquarium who works with the reptiles. Specifically, the snakes. He also has six pet snakes (western hognose, python, milk snake, cobra, and two others that I can't remember.)

Being in South Carolina, everyone has some interest in the reptiles and my student offered to bring a few snakes in for "show and tell." That's when I learned an amazingly bizarre tidbit about the infinitely baffling state laws of South Carolina. You don't need a permit to buy or possess a gun, but to keep a pet snake, you have to take and pass a written test in order to obtain a permit.

Obviously, in their gloriously obscure thought processes, the good state legislators saw the alarming number of cases of robbery, domestic disputes, and drug-deals gone bad that ended in the lethal use of snake and so felt the need to protect the good citizens of the state from such violence.

So, if you'd like to buy one of those interesting or exotic snakes at the pet store, be prepared to prove that you have the emotional and intellectual capacity to own such a lethal weapon. If you don't, you might just have to content yourself with buying a firearm. You don't need to show any level of responsibility or intelligence to own one of those.


  1. Oh, wow! How ironic.

    My son has a Green snake. It's a few feet long and about the width of my pinky. It eats crickets.

    Too funny to think he'd need a permit.

  2. I could write a whole blog about the twisted legislative thought processes in this state, Cindy! Like anti-abortion bills, legislation restricting women's rights with regard to reproductive health because we're "pro-life" but voting against things like infant and children seat-belt laws and laws requiring minors to wear helments on ATVs because "we can't tell parents how to raise their children." WTF?!?!?!