SC Governor Signs Open Carry Law

Elaine Thompson

For gun rights advocates in South Carolina, one of their big goals was to bring open carry into the state. Oddly, they were one of only two Southern states not to have some degree of open carry, so I can see why that was a goal for gun rights groups.


However, their first effort didn’t work out so well. Permitless open carry was a bridge too far for too many lawmakers. However, permissive open carry wasn’t.

The bill passed the legislature, and now it’s been signed into law.

Gov. Henry McMaster said Monday he signed into law a bill allowing people with concealed weapons permits from the state to carry their guns in the open.

McMaster posted on Twitter that he was keeping his promise to sign any bill that protects or expands gun rights.

The proposal allows so-called open carry of guns for people who undergo training and background checks so they can keep guns hidden under a jacket or other clothing or in their vehicle anywhere there isn’t a sign prohibiting it.

The law takes effect in 90 days. Thus, in mid-August, South Carolina will no longer be with California, Florida, Illinois and New York to prohibit any type of open carry.

The law eliminates a $50 permit fee to get a concealed weapons permit and lowers the number of bullets that someone must fire at a target in an accuracy test to get a permit from 50 to 25 shots. Requirements remain that a permit holder be 21 or over, take eight hours of training and pass a background check that includes fingerprinting.


Now, I know the goal here was to get open carry. I get why South Carolina gun rights groups were pushing for that, even though I’m not a fan of open carry myself. That’s still the big goal and I hope they and a lot of other states can get permitless open carry soon.

However, I can’t help but think the changes to the permitting process might be the biggest win of the legislative session.

First, reducing the amount of fire during qualification is helpful since we’re in an ammunition shortage. Ideally, I’d like that done away with entirely, but when this doesn’t produce problems, it’ll be easier to reduce it still further until it disappears entirely.

Second, though most importantly in my mind, is the elimination of permitting fees.

That’s right. A South Carolina permit will be free in 90 days.

Granted, that’s muffled a bit because you still have to pay for a training class, but a free permit is probably something too few gun rights groups are pushing for, and it actually makes sense. It’s one thing to require a permit to exercise a constitutionally protected right, but another to charge what some of these states actually charge. While $50 may not be much for many of us, it’s a lot of money to some folks, so this is a big win.


Plus, you know, that whole open carry thing.

No, it’s not permitless open carry, but it’s hard for some people to wrap their head around no open carry to permitless open carry. Going to permissive open carry is a step. The key, though, is to make sure it’s only a first step.

We didn’t lose our gun rights overnight. We won’t get them back overnight, either. Let’s take our wins for what they are and press forward.

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