A bill that would allow out-of-state concealed weapons permit holders to carry in South Carolina continues to advance in the legislature despite the concerns of several lawmakers about the permitting process in other states.
On an 18-6 vote, a House panel sent the bill to the floor with minor changes. It would require the state to recognize the concealed weapons permit of all 50 states – including those that don’t recognize South Carolina’s or that don’t have South Carolina’s level of required gun safety training.
The panel also attached an amendment by House Minority Leader Todd Rutherford, D-Richland, that requires out-of-state permit holders be 21 years old; some states issue permits to 18-year-olds. South Carolina law bars state residents under 21 from obtaining a concealed weapons permit.
Rutherford’s amendment also makes an exception to allow those who are under 21 but are active members of the military, the national guard or the reserves in South Carolina to be issued concealed weapons permits. The state would also recognize the permits of out-of-state armed forces members who are under 21.
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Rutherford said he proposed the amendment to support those in the military who are younger than 21.
“They, in some cases, give their lives to protect our country,” Rutherford said. “We should certainly give them the right to carry a firearm, while also making sure that those people who have concealed weapons permits in other states, if they are not in the military, that they have to be 21.”
The bill’s advancement for a vote of the full House did not come without several instances of tense debate between Rep. James Smith, D-Richland, and other legislators on the panel. Smith argued against the bill, saying it grants “greater rights to individuals who are not citizens of this state” by allowing South Carolina to recognize the permits of all states, including some that refuse to recognize permits issued in the Palmetto State.
“I just don’t think that’s right for our citizens,” Smith said. “I think that gives South Carolina citizens a second-class status.”
A representative of the National Rifle Association has previously expressed no opposition to the 21 and under requirement addressed by the amendment. The organization has referred to the proposed law as a “true recognition“ of the permits of other states.
More than a dozen local volunteers of Moms Demand Action, an organization that calls for “common-sense legislation” to address gun violence, also attended the meeting in a show of opposition to the bill.