Letters to the Editor

Sears: Dismantling SC concealed weapons program is asking for trouble

Jon Sears
Jon Sears

Our Legislature is considering a dangerous bill that would undo one of our most fundamental public safety laws and put all of our communities at risk. H.3025 aims to dismantle South Carolina’s concealed weapons permitting system by allowing individuals to carry hidden, loaded guns in public with absolutely no training and without first ensuring that they have clean criminal records. Despite the dangerous, clear-cut implications of passing this bill, it already has passed the House.

South Carolina’s rate of gun homicides is nearly 46 percent higher than the national average. This alarming fact suggests we should be doing more to keep our friends and families safe from gun violence — not supporting bills that would dramatically lower our safety standards and put our communities at an elevated risk.

As a concealed weapon permit holder, I understand firsthand how important it is to maintain our current permitting standards. Before I received my permit, I — along with nearly every other permit holder in the state — completed a handgun education and live-fire course to demonstrate my ability to properly and safely handle a loaded firearm. But H.3025 would eliminate this basic training requirement and instead allow people who have never even fired a gun to carry one concealed through our neighborhoods and down our crowded city streets.

As someone who owns several bars in Columbia, I know that the danger would be compounded in sensitive places — such as bars. As it stands, patrons are only allowed to carry guns into bars if they have a permit. H.3025 would enable any person to bring a hidden, loaded weapon into a bar and other places where alcohol is served.

Beyond the basic training requirement, current law also requires law enforcement to administer a criminal background check on every applicant before issuing permits and renewal permits. H.3025 would eliminate this background check requirement.

People should have to go through firearm training and have their criminal histories checked before they are allowed to carry handguns in public. It’s just common sense. So why are our elected leaders trying to put our communities at risk by lowering the bar?

If H.3025 is passed by the Senate and signed into law, untrained people will be legally allowed to carry concealed guns in our communities, and law enforcement will be powerless to stop them. The potentially fatal consequences of removing South Carolina’s concealed carry permit system are undeniable. It’s time to let our senators know we oppose this dangerous legislation.

Jon Sears

Vice President, Five Points Association