South Carolina’s gun laws are pretty good, so it’s surprising that open carry is banned in the state. In fact, South Carolina is just one of five states to completely bar the open carrying of handguns, along with California; Illinois; New York; and Florida (another outlier when it comes to open carry laws).
The right-to-carry revolution has come to the Palmetto State, however, and dozens of representatives are supporting a change to state law that would be a small but significant step in the right direction.
“This is an incremental step towards restoring our constitutional freedoms,” Rep. Bobby Cox said.
The Greenville County lawmaker is among a list of 67 state representatives who support the legislation, which was discussed Thursday morning among members of the state’s General Laws Subcommittee.
“This is not creating the wild west. This is simply a commonsense measure bringing South Carolina in line with other states, including all of your neighbors,” National Rifle Association Representative D.J. Spiker said to the subcommittee’s members. “While it’s a small step, it’s a critical step and a step that’s long overdue in bringing South Carolina in line with a vast majority of the country.”
The “Open Carry with Training Act” applies to those who have a concealed carry permit, and it allows open carry wherever a gun holder is permitted to carry a concealed weapon in the state.
“What we are asking is for you to allow concealed carry holders to take off their coat,” Spiker said.
Obviously I’d prefer that South Carolina was taking a hard look at Constitutional Carry instead of open carry without a license, but sometimes progress comes in a series of small steps and not one giant leap for our constitutional rights. As the NRA’s Spiker notes, even an inadvertent display of a concealed firearm could be considered a crime under current law, and this bill would do nothing more than allow those already licensed to carry to choose the manner in which they do so.
Of course, for South Carolina gun control activists, this bill would cause anarchy in the streets and somehow lead to more violent crime.
“Open carry with or without training is a mistake for South Carolina,” Arm in Arm Representative Meghan Trezies said.
Her organization advocates on behalf of South Carolinians who support responsible gun ownership.
“The training aspect of this bill is an illusion. It’s a security blanket meant to make us feel better about an inherently dangerous policy. Once we make this mistake, there’s no dialing this policy back and no making it better,” Trezies said.
An inherently dangerous policy that’s on the books in 45 states? Give me a break. This bill is a small but sensible move that no responsible gun owner should object to, much less call “dangerous.”
Unfortunately, gun control activists like Trezies weren’t the only ones objecting to the measure during a committee hearing this past Thursday. Charleston Police Chief Luther Reynolds said the bill “does not make sense” to him, while Charleston County Sheriff Kristin Graziano let fly one of the standard tropes of gun control advocates; “I support the Second Amendment, but…”
“I am however perplexed as to why, after all of the conflict, protests and rise in violent crimes involving gun violence, over the past year that legislature is prioritizing a measure that would, in my professional opinion, put our professionals in a tactical disadvantage to protect and serve all of the citizens we serve,” Graziano said. “My region, as well as nationally is facing a defensive stance in the Increase of violent crimes involving firearms. The past year has been extremely challenging for law enforcement and open carry further blurs the lines of what our professionals face during a crisis much less in everyday normality. I will remain opposed to a bill that creates opportunity for our communities and our servants to be less safe. To put them in that position is selfish and irresponsible.”
With all due respect to the sheriff, the laws are supposed to benefit the general public, not law enforcement. It may very well make the job of police a little easier if they can make an arrest for even an accidental flash of a firearm, but only at the expense of the civil rights of individuals.
Sheriff Graziano claims that open carry by licensed gun owners “creates opportunities for our communities and our servants to be less safe,” but she never explains why she believes that to be the case. Does she really think that criminals who are illegally carrying a gun are suddenly going to open carry, or that criminals who aren’t currently carrying a gun will decide to do so because South Carolinians with a license to carry could choose the manner in which they carry a gun? It makes no sense, and comes across as an attempt at emotional blackmail more than a substantive argument.
Again, even in anti-gun states like Massachusetts and Connecticut the open carrying of firearms by licensed gun owners is legal. If law enforcement in those states can figure it out, I’m sure that agencies in South Carolina can adapt as well. I hope this bill passes and that it is indeed just an incremental step towards the full acceptance of the right to keep and bear arms in the state.
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