Carrying firearms without a permit might soon be a reality in South Carolina if a bill that continues to make its way through the Legislature becomes law.
The bill by state Rep. Mike Pitts, R-Laurens, calls for what is often referred to as “constitutional carry” by allowing people who are legally permitted to own a firearm to carry one – concealed or in the open – without having to obtain a permit from the government.
A House panel sent the proposed law to the floor on a 15-7 vote on Tuesday, over the concerns of several legislators – including Richland Democrat Rep. James Smith – who argued the bill has too many gray areas.
Among several concerns he voiced, Smith said the law would make it difficult for law enforcement to differentiate between those who are carrying lawfully and those who are not. He also expressed frustration with the scheduling of the first hearing of the bill, which was done on a Wednesday for a Thursday hearing.
“I suggest that this is being rushed through,” Smith said. “It passed without any real comment. Our people, our citizens should have an opportunity to address their government.”
The proposed law does not prevent businesses or homeowners from banning firearms from their property. And those with firearms would still be barred from carrying them into already prohibited locations such as schools and government buildings.
It also still would be illegal to carry a firearm while committing a crime.
If the bill becomes law, South Carolina would join the ranks of 11 states that already allow permit-less carry, according to the National Riffle Association.