SC Senate advances bill to shield $5,000 in guns during personal bankruptcy

A Senate panel this week favorably reported a House measure to allow bankrupt South Carolinians to keep up to $5,000 worth of firearms and ammunition from creditors.

The House measure, prefiled last December, passed that chamber in an easy 98-5 vote last month before Wednesday’s passage to the full Senate Judiciary committee. While some 14 states have protections safeguarding at least some firearms from creditors, the Palmetto State does not.

“When I realized that South Carolina, a strong Second Amendment state (and) having a strong firearm-owning heritage, (lacked the law) it occurred to me that we needed to repair that oversight,” said bill sponsor, Rep. Alan Clemmons, R-Myrtle Beach, according to the Post and Courier.

Clemmons’ bill, H 4398, would add any firearms not exceeding a total value of $5,000 owned by the debtor to the list of exemptions from bankruptcy proceedings and attachments.

Second Amendment groups argued that, while the bill could help preserve inherited firearms, that was not the primary focus of the legislation.

“We’re not so much concerned with preserving family heirlooms, although I think that’s important,” said National Rifle Association lobbyist Anthony Roulette as reported by the Herald Online. “I don’t know how you put a value on something that could potentially save your life from a criminal attacker.”

The measure now moves to the full Judiciary Committee. Republicans currently hold a 28-17 majority in the Senate, which wraps up its regular session this month.