Florence County officials explain new open carry law, answer questions from public

Pee Dee

FLORENCE COUNTY, S.C. (WBTW) — A public forum was held Tuesday night in Florence County about the new open carry law that will go into effect this month in South Carolina.

At the forum, officials explained the new law and answered questions from the public. Gov. Henry McMaster signed the new law in May. Florence Sheriff TJ Joye said the law is going to be a big change, not just for law enforcement, but for everyone.

“This is a big topic and this is a big change,” Joye said. “You’re talking peoples’ rights. Second Amendment rights. It’s very important.”

The Open Carry with Training Act will go into effect Aug. 15. It makes South Carolina a Second Amendment sanctuary state, eliminates the $50 permit fee for a concealable weapon permit (CWP) and allows CWP holders to openly carry a concealable weapon on them or in their car unless there is signage stating otherwise.

“Permit holders cannot carry open or concealed in law enforcement, correctional or detention facilities, courthouses, courtroom, public places on election day,” Florence Police Department Chief Allen Hiedler said.

Public schools and any business or establishment without permission of the owner or person in legal control is also off limits. Joye said the Florence County Sheriff’s Office has been training its deputies on the new law and he’s been in contact with several other sheriff departments across the state.

“It’s a concern for all agencies because it’s new and it’s going into open carry,” Joye said. “You’re walking in the yard and see somebody walking down the street with a weapon.”

Tuesday night’s meeting drew a crowd with several CWP holders asking questions like how big the gun can be and how they anticipate the transition going. Hiedler said they realize it’s going to be a shock to many.

“If you are going to open carry, it is going to have a tendency to shock people, so be mindful of that, be respectful of people please,” he said.

A second open forum will be held Thursday in Lake City at 7 p.m. at The Continuum at 208 West Main Street.

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