The bill by state Rep. Mike Pitts, R-Laurens, calls for what is often referred to as “constitutional carry” by allowing people who are legally permitted to own a firearm to carry one – concealed or in the open – without having to obtain a permit from the government.
A House panel sent the proposed law to the floor on a 15-7 vote Tuesday, over the concerns of several legislators – including Richland Democratic Rep. James Smith – who argued the bill has too many gray areas.
“The right to carry is a constitutional amendment in the Bill of Rights,” Pitts said. “It is a constitutionally protected right, and that’s why I don’t think the government should (issue a) permit” for the carrying of a gun.
Pitts introduced a similar bill in 2016. But this year’s bill also would allow for “open carry,” which means a person can carry a firearm without having to conceal it.
The proposal does not change where firearm owners can carry their weapons. They would still be barred from carrying into schools and other already prohibited locations. And private businesses could still bar firearms from their establishments.
Here is a relevant section of the proposed legislation. The convention is that a strikethrough indicates text to be removed. Underlined text is text that is to be added. From scstatehous.gov:
SECTION 2. Section 16-23-20 of the 1976 Code is amended to read:Here is how it looks when the strikethru and underlining purposes are put into effect:
"Section 16-23-20. (A) It is unlawful for anyone to carry about the person any handgun, whether concealed or not, except as follows,
unless otherwise specifically prohibited by law:with the intent to use the handgun unlawfully against another person. The intent to use a handgun unlawfully against another person must not be inferred from the mere possession, carrying, or concealment of the handgun, whether it is loaded or unloaded.
SECTION 2. Section 16-23-20 of the 1976 Code is amended to read:
The requirement for an unlawful intent to prosecute the carry of a weapon is similar to Constitutional Carry law in Vermont and Arkansas. Self defense is lawful. Carrying a weapon for self defense would not be a violation of the law.
"Section 16-23-20. (A) It is unlawful for anyone to carry about the person any handgun, whether concealed or not, with the intent to use the handgun unlawfully against another person. The intent to use a handgun unlawfully against another person must not be inferred from the mere possession, carrying, or concealment of the handgun, whether it is loaded or unloaded.
The bill has a chance of passage. If it becomes law, South Caroling would join the Constitutional Carry club, increasing the number of states with Constitutional Carry to 13. The law would simultaneously decrease the states that routinely ban the open carry of holstered handguns from five to four, leaving only Florida, California, New York, and Illinois in that group. Florida is currently considering an open carry law, but the bill is bottled up in committee.
©2017 by Dean Weingarten: Permission to share is granted when this notice and link are included.