Some 2A Advocates Not Happy With Open Carry Bill

A South Carolina bill that would allow for individuals with carry licenses to do so either openly or concealed is expected to be signed into law, but believe it or not, some gun owners aren’t happy about the changes. On today’s Bearing Arms’ Cam & Co we take a look at their objections, as well as the bill itself, to see if there’s any reason for Second Amendment activists to be upset.

According to Horry County gun store owner Robert Battista, the “concealed carry with training” bill is a step in the wrong direction, and he’s worried about a backlash from local businesses.

“We’re already a concealed carry state. The law is to be able to open carry with a permit so I really don’t see the need,” Battista said.

Battista said he thinks this is a step in the wrong direction when it comes to gun legislation and lawmakers could’ve looked at more important laws surrounding guns.

“It’s not a step forward. I think there was a lot of gun legislation that we could have passed like getting rid of gun free zones,” Battista said. “We already had the right to carry a gun, I don’t understand why they spent all this time and effort to get this open carry bill.”

He said this legislation may cause more businesses to put up signs restricting guns on their property.

“The minute people start open carrying into their businesses we’re going to start making other patrons and customers nervous and it’s going to force businesses to put signs up,” Battista said. “I really don’t think it’s a good idea plus I think it’s going to affect the tourist industry, we get a lot of tourists from the northeast states that are not really gun-happy and I think people walking around with guns on their hips are going to make those people nervous.”

I disagree with Battista that the bill is taking South Carolina gun laws in the wrong direction, because as it is, any concealed carry holder who accidentally reveals their concealed firearm is currently breaking the law. If nothing else, the “open carry with training” bill will fix that flaw in state law, but the legislation was also amended in the state Senate in a way that is hugely beneficial to gun owners by scrapping the state’s $50 application fee for carry licenses. As a gun store owner, Battista should be thrilled to see that, even if he doesn’t see why anyone would want or need to openly carry a firearm.

As for the idea that lawmakers should have passed a bill to end gun-free zones, the reality is that there aren’t the votes in the state legislature to do that. Heck, there weren’t even enough votes to pass a clean Constitutional Carry bill out of the state Senate, much less a bill that would repeal all gun-free zones. While South Carolina’s legislature is dominated by Republicans, it looks like the state Senate also has a sizable number of GOP members who are exceedingly cautious when it comes to expanding the right to keep and bear arms. If you want to see a law forbidding the forbidding of firearms, Second Amendment activists are going to have to swap out some of those skittish state senators with candidates who are willing to go big on gun bills.

Battista’s right that tourists from the northeast who head down to Myrtle Beach on vacation might fret at the sight of someone openly carrying, but then again, when I’ve visited the Outer Banks in North Carolina I’ve never seen anyone open carrying, even though in North Carolina no license is needed to do so. It’s really a non-issue, and I suspect that the vast majority of tourists enjoying Myrtle Beach and Hilton Head won’t ever see anyone openly carrying. I also suspect that if they do, it’s not going to be reason enough to make them head to the Jersey Shore for their next vacation either.

I would have preferred a pure permitless carry bill over the “open carry with training” legislation, but if you’re serious about advancing our Second Amendment rights, you can’t let perfect be the enemy of good. Sure, it’s a smaller step forward than I would have liked, but it’s still a step forward, and the Senate amendments nixing the carry license fee and providing free instruction to those who want it have made the bill even better, and I suspect that despite Mr. Battista’s objections, most gun owners in the state will be happy to see the legislation signed into law.

Jan 19, 2022 12:30 PM ET