State - Regional

Constitutional carry bill goes before SC legislators

CONWAY, SC (WBTW) - There is a renewed push to change gun laws in South Carolina. 

The Constitutional Carry Act of 2019 would allow anyone who can lawfully purchase a gun to carry it in public places where permitted, and a concealed weapons permit would no longer be required. 

Supporters say this is a right that is protected by the Second Amendment. Currently, gun owners in South Carolina must first attend training through a certified state concealed weapon permit instructor. Ted Hayden is one of those instructors at The Gun Store in Conway.

"Whenever you take a good hard look at what a lack of training will bring to the handling of such a dangerous object, the good that the permit does will outweigh the principal of permitless carry," said Hayden.

The bill also lays out some restrictions on where a firearm can be carried, openly or concealed. These include police stations, courthouses, polling places on Election Day, daycares or preschools. 

According to SLED, as of January 1, 2019, There are more than 459,793 active concealed weapons permits in South Carolina.

Hayden said if we do away with them, weapon holders may not be allowed to carry in other states.

Operators of firearm businesses said they still recommend new gun owners sign up for a form of gun training and to familiarize themselves with the state's gun laws. 

Bill opponents say they are worried about people carrying firearms without proper training, which would put others at risk.

Gwen Reed is a member of the South Carolina chapter of Moms Demand Action. She's fighting against this bill for her sister who was killed by her abuser in 2013.

"He walked into bingo and killed her in front of hundreds and killed himself. My sister is a prime example of this permitless carry. She was in a public building," said Reed.

She said her sister's abuser was also a convicted felon who was able to buy a gun at a yard sale without a background check.

"For my family and many other families in South Carolina, this isn't a constitutional issue. It's a safety issue," said Reed.

Reed and Moms Demand Action will be in Columbia on Tuesday, speaking with lawmakers about gun legislation.

This bill, along with three other pieces of proposed gun legislation dealing with constitutional carry is currently in subcommittee. 

More than a dozen states allow permitless carry. 


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