SC House Panel Advances Constitutional Carry

SC House Panel Advances Constitutional Carry
AP Photo/Ted S. Warren

While constitutional carry is a thorny subject in a lot of places. There’s always going to be a lot of opposition to the measure, even among the GOP ranks. Far too often, such a bill is introduced and it just languishes in committee where it can die an ignoble death without anyone really incurring the anger of the gun rights community.

But, sometimes that doesn’t happen. Right now, several states seem to be advancing constitutional carry measures.

It also seems that South Carolina is among them.

A day before the South Carolina House is expected to start an hourslong debate over legislation that would allow a permitted gun owner to openly carry, a panel of lawmakers were slated to clear an even more expansive measure that would strike the permit requirement entirely.

The House Judiciary Committee passed a proposal Tuesday in a 18-6 vote that would allow constitutional carry in South Carolina, the constitutional belief that any legal gun owner should be allowed to own a gun without regulations.

State lawmakers don’t expect the constitutional carry measure to reach the debate stage until April, possibly before the crossover deadline to send the legislation to the Senate, well after the House passes the state budget.

But what the hearing over constitutional carry offered was a preview of how far some Republican House members will try to pull the debate Wednesday when a mostly Republican-led coalition attempts to pass a bill that would allow permitted gun owners to carry publicly where guns are allowed.

“It became clear there was a substantial amount of support for constitutional carry, not only from traditional Second Amendment right advocates, but supporters of (Democratic state Rep. Justin) Bamberg’s amendment to change it to a constitutional carry bill,” said state Rep. Micah Caskey, R-Lexington. “(It) made sense to offer you an opportunity to showcase your support.”

So it looks pretty good for South Carolina. They’re looking to get open carry, which I may not opt to use but prefer to have the option for, and may well get constitutional carry, too. Sounds like to different degrees of winning to me.

Yet I’d argue that constitutional carry would be the bigger win and the fact that a Democrat introduced the amendment making it constitutional carry is interesting. That’s not likely something you’ll see in California, New York, or Illinois, for example.

Then again, Southern Democrats used to be pretty different from Democrats in a lot of other places.

Regardless, my most sincere hope is that South Carolina passes this measure and allows its citizens to have unrestricted access to their right to bear arms. Constitutional carry would allow South Carolinians to carry a firearm when they determine the need for one without making them jump through governmental hoops in order to ask “Mother, may I?”

That’s not to take anything away from open carry. I hope that passes as well. While I’m not personally a fan of it as a practice, there are times when it’s handy and people should have the right to carry as they see fit.