A 1911 pistol holstered in a kydex holster
A 1911 pistol holstered in a kydex holster / Stephen Gutowski

South Carolina Lawmakers Pass Permitless Gun-Carry

Palmetto State lawmakers officially became the latest to do away with permitting requirements for public gun-carry.

The South Carolina Senate passed H. 3594 by a 28-18 vote on Wednesday. The measure will allow adults eligible to own a handgun to carry it in public, openly or concealed, without a permit. It now heads to the desk of Governor Henry McMaster (R.), who has pledged to sign it into law.

The bill’s passage clears the way for South Carolina to become the 29th state to adopt permitless carry and the 27th since 2010, in what has arguably been the most successful policy push of the modern American gun-rights movement. At the same time, South Carolina is the sole remaining trifecta Republican state without permitless carry, suggesting the policy’s rapid growth could soon be stunted for the foreseeable future.

South Carolina’s status as the lone trifecta Republican holdout among permitless carry states was not for lack of trying by advocates. A permitless carry bill cleared the state’s House in three previous legislative sessions but never cleared the state Senate during that time despite Republicans controlling both chambers.

Policy differences between the two legislative bodies nearly derailed this year’s permitless carry effort as well. While both chambers passed a version of the policy, lawmakers in the state Senate attached amendments creating stiffer penalties for illegal gun possession and designating new sensitive places off-limits to gun carriers in order to get more moderate and swing-district senators on board. The Senate version also included exemptions from the sensitive place restrictions for sitting lawmakers and optional state-financed training courses for prospective gun carriers.

Lawmakers in the state House initially rejected the Senate changes, preferring instead to push for what they called “clean” permitless carry legislation. But after it appeared that burgeoning stalemate would result in yet another defeat for permitless carry, lawmakers from both chambers convened a conference committee to hash out a compromise bill.

The version of H. 3594 that emerged from the committee largely adopted the Senate’s amendments with a few exceptions. It will remove permit requirements for both concealed and open carry, which South Carolina previously required, and lower the age for handgun carry from 21 to 18. It also designates detention facilities, government buildings, polling places, schools, medical facilities, churches, and private residences off-limits to carry. Carry would only be allowed in medical facilities, churches, and private residences with express permission. The bill does not exempt lawmakers from these designations, as initially proposed by the Senate version.

H. 3594 also kept the graduated criminal penalties pushed by the Senate for persons convicted of unlawfully carrying a firearm, including new felony penalties for repeat offenders. It would also require citizens to report stolen guns to state authorities within ten days of a theft.

Senate Republicans celebrated the compromise bill.

“My decade-long fight to enable responsible gun owners to carry a firearm without asking permission from the government concluded in a resounding victory today,” Senator Shane Martin said in a statement. “Soon, freedom-loving South Carolinians will wake up to a new era of expanded Second Amendment rights in the 29th Constitutional Carry state in the nation.”

The bill’s passage comes just one day after Louisiana Governor Jeff Landry (R.) signed a bill raising the permitless carry state count to 28. Once signed, H. 3594 will take effect immediately.

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Created by potrace 1.16, written by Peter Selinger 2001-2019


Created by potrace 1.16, written by Peter Selinger 2001-2019

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