Big Win for Gun Owners as South Carolina Senate Approves Constitutional Carry

AP Photo/Rebecca Blackwell

After nearly six full days of debate, South Carolina’s Senate approved a Constitutional Carry bill on Thursday by a vote of 28-15, removing the last major hurdle for the state to become the 28th in the nation to recognize the right to bear arms without the need for a government-issued permission slip.

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The bill, which was already approved by the House last year, still needs to return to the lower chamber for a final concurrence vote since the Senate did amend the legislation before giving it their stamp of approval.

The amendment would allow people 18 and older to carry a gun without a permit but would also offer free, training twice a month in every county that is overseen by the South Carolina Law Enforcement Division. It would also add an extra penalty for people who don’t have their Concealed Weapon Permit if they carry a gun where doing so is prohibited and create a statewide campaign to inform people of those increased penalities.

That shouldn’t be a bill-killer for the House, so the odds are good that H3594 will soon head to Gov. Henry McMaster for his signature.

I tuned in for several hours of the debate on Thursday afternoon, and I was struck by how many of the arguments from opponents sounded like Constitutional Carry is some brand new idea that has never before been enacted, instead of a policy that’s already in place in more than half of the country.

Sen. Mia McLeod and others who vocally oppose the permitless carry measure let their contempt for their constituents be known during debate on the Senate floor, predicting a “Wild West” atmosphere where untrained and ignorant citizens would carry around loaded firearms without having the first idea of how to safely or responsibly handle their gun. Nothing like that has taken place in any of the 27 states that have already adopted permitless carry, but McLeod seems to think South Carolinians are special, and especially stupid.

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Thankfully, a majority of her colleagues disagreed with her assessment of residents of the Palmetto State, as well as the legislation itself, which she described as anti-law enforcement, anti-law-abiding citizen, and the beginning of the end of a “decent quality of life” in South Carolina.

Why would South Carolina’s experience be so different than virtually every other state? Atlanta, Georgia saw murders drop by more than 20 percent last year, which was the first full-year that Constitutional Carry was in effect in the state. Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis signed permitless carry into law last year, and Miami recorded a 40 percent decline in homicides, while cities like Orlando and Tampa saw their homicide rate drop by more than 20 percent. Ohio Attorney General Dave Yost reported that six of the state’s biggest cities saw declines in homicides in the first year that Constitutional Carry was in effect in the Buckeye State. Constitutional Carry didn’t increase homicides in Oklahoma either, with both Oklahoma City and Tulsa witnessing declines of more than 30 percent in their homicide rates.

Are the residents of these cities inherently more responsible than those in Charleston, Columbia, or Myrtle Beach? Of course not, and the disrespect towards lawful and responsible citizens displayed by opponents of H3594 was shameful to witness. Constitutional Carry won’t eradicate violent crime in the state or turn every criminal into a lawful gun owner, but it’s not going to be the disaster that many Democrats have predicted either. It will simply remove another barrier between we the people and our right to keep and bear arms, and though it’s a shame it took lawmakers so long to sign off on the measure, South Carolina will be better off when this bill is finally enacted into law.

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