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South Carolina: Constitutional Carry Passes House, 64-46

H. 3930, a Constitutional Carry bill is on the move in South Carolina. On March 9th, it passed the Judiciary Constitutional Laws Subcommittee. On 21 March, it passed the full committee with a vote of 15 to 7.  On Wednesday, April 5th, it passed the House. Last year a similar bill passed the House, but died in the Senate. From thepostandcourier.com:

COLUMBIA — The South Carolina House of Representatives on Wednesday approved a bill that would allow residents to carry a gun, openly or concealed, without getting a weapons permit.

The controversial bill passed the chamber 64-46 after more than three hours of debate.

If approved by the Senate and signed into law, anyone who is legally allowed to buy a gun to do so without getting a state permit. The bill would keep the states concealed weapons permit program in place so South Carolinians could carry their guns in other states.

Here is a relevant section of the proposed legislation. The convention is that a strikethrough indicates text to be removed. Underlined text is text that is to be added.  From scstatehous.gov:

SECTION    2.    Section 16-23-20 of the 1976 Code is amended to read:
“Section 16-23-20.    (A)    It is unlawful for anyone to carry about the person any handgun, whether concealed or not, except as follows, unless otherwise specifically prohibited by law: with the intent to use the handgun unlawfully against another person. The intent to use a handgun unlawfully against another person must not be inferred from the mere possession, carrying, use, or concealment of the handgun, whether it is loaded or unloaded.

Here is how it looks when the strikethru and underlining purposes are put into effect:

SECTION 2. Section 16-23-20 of the 1976 Code is amended to read:

“Section 16-23-20. (A) It is unlawful for anyone to carry about the person any handgun, whether concealed or not, with the intent to use the handgun unlawfully against another person. The intent to use a handgun unlawfully against another person must not be inferred from the mere possession, carrying, or concealment of the handgun, whether it is loaded or unloaded.

The requirement for an unlawful intent to prosecute the carry of a weapon is similar to Constitutional Carry law in Vermont and Arkansas. Self defense is lawful. Carrying a weapon for self defense would not be a violation of the law.

There are 27 Republicans in the Senate, and 18 Democrats. Mere numbers are not the entire story when it comes to passing legislation.  In 2016, the Constitutional Carry bill was bottled up and killed in a Senate subcommittee. Senator Katrina Frye Shealy (R) Lexington was one of the primary opponents. She is still on the Judiciary Committee, which is a likely place for the bill to be sent in the senate.  This year she is listed as a sponsor of SC S0449, which is a senate bill quite similar to H. 3930.  If she actually supports Constitutional Carry in 2017, it would be a significant change. In 2016, the only senator to vote for the Constitutional Carry bill was Senator Lee Bright. Senator Bright lost his primary in 2016, and is no longer in the senate.

The bill has a chance of passage. If it becomes law, South Carolina would join the Constitutional Carry club, increasing the number of states with Constitutional Carry to 14.  New Hampshire and North Dakota have already joined the club in 2017.

The South Carolina law would simultaneously decrease the states that routinely ban the open carry of holstered handguns from five to four, leaving only Florida, California, New York, and Illinois in that group. Florida is currently considering an open carry law, but the bill is bottled up in committee.

©2017 by Dean Weingarten: Permission to share is granted when this notice and link are included.  Gun Watch

 

 

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