As part of a preventative measure to keep the federal government’s hands off of firearms owned by law-abiding South Carolinians, state Sen. Tom Corbin (R-Greenville) has introduced a bill that would make every person over 17-years-old part of the state’s “unorganized militia.”
Senate Bill 247 states: “Any able-bodied citizen of the state who is over 17 years of age and can legally purchase a firearm is deemed a member of the South Carolina Unorganized Militia, unless he is already a member of the National Guard or the organized militia not in National Guard Service.”
By expanding the “unorganized militia” to include virtually everyone except for criminals and the mentally ill, Corbin is protecting their Constitutional right to keep and bear arms because under state law “the unorganized militia may not fall under any law or regulation or jurisdiction of any person or entity outside of South Carolina,” which includes the federal government.
Moreover, the bill adds that a militia member “shall have the right to possess and keep all arms that could be legally acquired or possessed by a South Carolina citizen as of Dec. 31, 2012. This includes shouldered rifles and shotguns, handguns, clips, magazines, and all components.”
So, in other words, were the bill to become law all responsible gun owners would be part of the state militia and would therefore be protected from onerous federal gun legislation, such as bans on so-called ‘military-style assault weapons’ or ‘high-capacity magazines.’
It’s a pretty good deal, especially because membership is not compulsory and it doesn’t come with any strings attached, as the bill states, “A member may resign at any time from the unorganized militia, at which time he will resume his civilian status.”
Senate Bill 247 was officially introduced back in January, not long after the mass shooting at Sandy Hook Elementary School in Newtown, Connecticut, which reignited the national gun control debate.
“It’s not the gun’s fault, it’s never the gun’s fault,” Corbin told the Charleston Post and Courier, in a January interview. “It’s the person. But everybody wants to come down on the gun, and I’ve never thought that was right.”
In addition to safeguarding one’s right to keep and bear arms, would also serve to help the United States in the event of an enemy invasion, Corbin explained.
“If they [an enemy] were landing on North Carolina’s shores, I don’t see why we wouldn’t go up there and help our brothers fight,” Corbin said, citing the “red Chinese” as an example.
All that said, where is this bill headed?
In March, a Senate panel approved the bill. Beyond that, it’s unclear what the fate of the bill will be. Will the full Senate eventually vote on it? Perhaps. And, we’ll certainly keep you posted on its progress.
Also, there is the question of whether this bill would actually pass constitutional muster?
The short answer: probably not.
Like with other state-led efforts to circumvent the passage of new federal laws — such as the ‘South Carolina Firearms Freedom Act,‘ which invokes states rights under the 9th and 10th Amendments to the U.S. Constitution to argue that the federal government does not have the authority to regulate intrastate commerce (firearms manufactured, sold or kept within the state’s borders) — SB 247 seems to directly conflict with federal preemption.
According to the Supremacy Clause (Article VI, clause 2) of the United States Constitution:
This Constitution, and the laws of the United States which shall be made in pursuance thereof; and all treaties made, or which shall be made, under the authority of the United States, shall be the supreme law of the land; and the judges in every state shall be bound thereby, anything in the Constitution or laws of any State to the contrary notwithstanding.
It would be interesting to see how this would play out it in court. Though, hopefully, it never gets to that point because hopefully the federal government doesn’t enact any new gun laws.