Two House bills set to go before a Senate panel Thursday could mean big changes for South Carolinians who carry concealed firearms.
House Bill 3799 would recognize concealed weapons permits from North Carolina and Georgia, while House Bill 3025 would recognize permits from all other states – as well as allow concealed carry in South Carolina without a permit.
South Carolina currently recognizes North Carolina permits, according to the State Law Enforcement Division, but does not recognize those from Georgia.
Rep. Bill Hixon, sponsor of House Bill 3799, said his constituents live near the Georgia state line, and frequently ask him to address the lack of reciprocity.
“Of my constituent requests, it’s the No. 1 request,” Hixon said. “No. 2 is roads and bridges.”
Though Georgia does not currently recognize South Carolina permits, Hixon said Georgia state law automatically recognizes any state that accepts its permits – meaning his proposal would allow South Carolina residents to carry in Georgia.
Critics say Georgia does not require proof of training before issuing a permit, and does not have a central issuing authority. According to www.georgia.gov, county probate judges have authority to issue or restrict firearms licenses.
SLED issues South Carolina permits, and residents must show proof of accepted training when applying.
Richland County Sheriff Leon Lott said he supports citizens getting concealed weapons permits because South Carolina’s required training teaches them when and how to use a gun.
“We shouldn’t recognize states that give out CWPs like they give out candy,” he said.
House Bill 3025, sponsored by Rep. Alan Clemmons, goes further, allowing S.C. residents to carry a concealed handgun without a permit. The bill does not explicitly mention permitless carry, but removes language currently requiring those carrying a firearm to also be carrying a valid permit.
Such propositions don’t sit well with police, Lott said.
“Any effort that’s going to dilute that training is going to get opposition from those of us in law enforcement,” he said.