COLUMBIA, SC (WSPA) — After hours of debate, a bill that would expand gun rights in South Carolina cleared a major hurdle.
By a vote of 82 to 33, the South Carolina House of Representatives voted to give an amended version of the Open Carry with Training Act second reading Wednesday afternoon. It has essentially passed the body.
The legislation would allow anyone with a Concealed Weapon Permit (CWP) in South Carolina to carry a hand gun openly.
NOW: The House has been debating the Open Carry with Training Act for a couple hours now. The bill would allow anyone with a Concealed Weapon Permit (CWP) to openly carry a handgun in SC. pic.twitter.com/jDz7wecc6l— Jason Raven (@JasonRaven_) March 17, 2021
A provision that would allow businesses to post signs prohibiting ‘open carry’ in their establishment was added to the bill by lawmakers.
Supporters said this bill helps protect Second Amendment rights. Conservative lawmakers said one of their many goals this session is expanding gun rights in the state.
Representative Bobby Cox (R-District 21) said, “This will put us in line with 45 other states who have some type of open carry of a hand gun.”
Black lawmakers expressed concerns about the legislation. They said it would make things less safe in their communities.
Rep. Jermaine Johnson (D-District 88) told his fellow lawmakers on the House floor, “Don’t think about yourself in this situation. Think about me and my family.”
He also said he’s worried about interactions black legal gun owners could have with law enforcement if this bill were to become law.
Other Democrats also pointed out some state and local law enforcement officials testified against the bill while it was in committee.
This isn’t the only gun legislation on the floor. Tuesday evening, the House Judiciary Committee advanced the Constitutional Carry Act of 2021 to the floor.
House members are expected to debate that bill in early April, right before the crucial cross over deadline.
Rep. RJ May (R-District 88) said he supports the Open Carry bill but would like to see the Constitutional Carry bill become law, “What we’re trying to do is allow people to exercise their God-given right for self-protection.”
The Open Carry with Training Act faces one more routine procedural vote Thursday to give it third reading before it is sent to the state Senate.