As my colleague Tom Knighton pointed out on Friday, several law enforcement officials in South Carolina are spouting doom and gloom over the state’s new open carry law, including the police chief in Greenville, who says among his concerns are fears that those who choose to openly carry may offer themselves up as a target of criminals.
Greenville City Police Chief Howie Thompson has some fear about South Carolina’s open-carry law that was signed into law Monday.
One of Thompson’s fears is for those carrying guns.
“Everyone will see it, and if someone who is committing a criminal act goes in and sees someone carrying a gun, well now the person who is carrying becomes a threat,” he said.
While that is a possibility, the fact is that South Carolina now joins 45 other states that allow for the open carrying of legally-owned handguns, and it’s extraordinarily rare to hear stories of open carries targeted by criminals.
There’s a lot of scaremongering going on in South Carolina right now, but thankfully there are some law enforcement officials who are more interested in educating folks on the facts about the new law instead of spreading fear. One of them is Spartanburg County Sheriff Chuck Wright, who says he loves the fact that the open carry law will soon be in effect.
Wright added, “I don’t know why it would make people nervous. There are a lot more people walking around with weapons you don’t see. With it being law, I want people to protect themselves and be safe with it, and the Second Amendment gives people the right to do so.”
McMaster signed the bill on Monday, which goes into effect in 90 days. The law allows people with a concealed weapons permit from the state to carry their guns in the open. People who undergo training and background checks can keep handguns hidden on their person or in a vehicle except where signs prohibit it.
Yeah, you read that correctly. This isn’t even permitless open carry; just a revision to the state’s carry laws that now allows those who possess a carry license to do so either openly or concealed. The vast majority of carry holders are going to continue to keep their firearm hidden from view, but now they don’t have to worry about being arrested if they accidentally expose their firearm.
Honestly, the fear and freak outs that we’re witnessing from pro-gun control advocates in the state is sad, but I predict that it will soon fade away once the law has gone into effect and the state doesn’t suddenly turn into the Wild West. Sheriff Wright certainly doesn’t sound concerned about what’s going to happen when the law officially changes in a few months.
“We will come up with a game plan that doesn’t violate anyone’s rights and doesn’t put people at risk,” Wright said. “Most of the deputies I have talked to, don’t have any issue with it (open carry), whatsoever. I think a great number of people won’t carry it openly, some will and some won’t. We will just have to wait and see.”
I’m glad to see that there’s at least one rational voice in policing when it comes to the state’s new open carry law. As for those who are insistent that the sky is falling, I can only tell them that here in Virginia, where permitless open carry has been legal for decades, the law has posed no problem whatsoever. In fact, our violent crime rate is far lower than South Carolina’s, though that shouldn’t be the case if open carry led to more crime.
Criminals are going to carry regardless of the law. South Carolina’s new open carry law simply provides another layer of protection for legal gun owners who are licensed to carry, and frankly, I hope it’s just the first step towards true Constitutional Carry in South Carolina in the near future.