Out-of-state concealed weapons permit holders could be allowed to carry firearms in South Carolina if a bill that cleared its first hurdle on Wednesday becomes law.
The bill by Rep. Alan Clemmons, R-Horry, calls for what the National Riffle Association refers to as a "true recognition" of the permits of other states. It would require the Palmetto State recognize the concealed weapons permit of every state in the union – including those that don’t recognize South Carolina’s, such as California.
“These permits are a way to recognize a right,” said Anthony Roulette, of the NRA, while addressing the House panel discussing the merits of the bill.
There were several concerns raised with the bill by legislators. Rep. James Smith, D-Richland, argued that several states issue concealed weapons permits to 18-year-olds, while South Carolina bars any one younger than 21.
Smith discussed adding an amendment that would place a restriction for out-of-state permit holders under 21, but did not place the proposal for a vote.
The bill advanced to the next committee on a 3-2 party-line vote, with Smith and Rep. Mandy Powers Norrell, D-Lancaster, dissenting. Wednesday marked the second time the same panel discussed the bill. Smith was critical of the bill during that meeting as well.
Jarrod Bruder, executive director of the South Carolina Sheriff’s Association, expressed frustration with the proposal, stressing that it’s best if a permit holder has first demonstrated the ability to use the weapon. Several states do not require proof of proficiency with a firearm.
“You certainly have a right to bear arms, but knowledge, we have seen, does not always comes with that right,” Bruder said.