State Sen. Lee Bright (R-Spartanburg) has pre-filed a bill that, if passed into law, would make South Carolina the fifth state in the country to legalize ‘Constitutional’ or ‘permit-less’ carry.
Only Alaska, Arizona, Vermont and Wyoming allow residents to carry a firearm without a permit.
“The Second Amendment says that our rights to have firearms cannot be infringed upon and that’s what the federal government is doing right now,” Sen. Bright told local news affiliate WSAV.
In the past Sen. Bright, along with pro-gun Sen. Kevin Bryant, has sponsored ‘permit-less’ carry bills. However, each previous bill died in a review committee due to mixed reviews amongst his fellow lawmakers.
Under current law, a resident of the Palmetto State must successfully complete an eight-hour training course to obtain a CCW permit, in addition to passing a background check and being at least 21 years of age.
As pointed out by WSAV, the safety course must include the following:
- Information on handgun laws and laws about the use of deadly force.
- Information about handgun safety and use.
- Information about the proper storage of handguns, emphasizing reducing the possibility of injury to a child.
- Range time, i.e. firing the gun in the presence of an instructor.
While the notion of ‘Constitutional’ carry is popular amongst gun owners in SC, it also has its fair share of detractors. Among them is Jeff Moore, the Executive director of the South Carolina Sheriffs’ Association
“We believe that that is the wrong thing to do simply because we believe a person ought to be trained on it to a minimal degree so that they have some understanding of how the weapon operates, how it works,” Moore told WSAV. “And they need to know the rules for carrying them. Where can you carry them? Where can you not carry them?”
Moore also discussed his historical interpretation of our Constitutional right to keep and bear arms, suggesting that times were different back then.
“If you read the Second Amendment, it talks about a militia being necessary for the safety and security of the state,” explained Moore.
“At that point in time, the American army was very small and the country literally relied on citizen militias for protection. And the most powerful weapon a person could own, outside a cannon, was a single-shot, muzzle-loading musket,” he continued.
But Sen. Bright rejected the interpretation that our Second Amendment is somehow limited by, contingent upon or subordinate to militia service or that it should be restricted by a CCW permit process.
“If you want to change the Constitution, change the Constitution,” Bright argued. “But the Constitution clearly says that those rights shall not be infringed, and once you have to have a permit to assert a right then you can start requiring people to have permits to speak and a lot of other things.”
So, what is the likelihood that this latest permit-less carry bill gets signed into law?
Well, as they say, “timing is everything.” And given recent events, the school shooting at an elementary school in Connecticut that has the nation buzzing with talks of widespread gun control, it’s going to be way more difficult than before – prior to Sandy Hook or at any point in time in the last 5 years – for any pro-gun piece of legislation to make real headway.
In short, this bill is likely going nowhere fast. Nevertheless, we’ll keep you posted on its progress.