Concealed Gun Bill Advances At SC Statehouse - WSPA.com

Concealed Gun Bill Advances At SC Statehouse

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By Robert Kittle

A House subcommittee unanimously passed a bill Thursday that would allow any South Carolinian 21 or older who can legally buy a gun to carry it, without having to get a concealed weapon permit. The bill is called "The South Carolina Law-Abiding Citizens Protection Act."

Subcommittee chairman Rep. Thad Viers, R-Myrtle Beach, says, "We firmly believe that if criminals are going to get guns illegally, we have to even the playing field and allow South Carolina citizens to have a right to defend themselves as well."

Mamie Gibbs of Columbia thinks it really would level the playing field with criminals. "Right now, we have no protection against them and they have the upper hand in every situation as long as we are unarmed," she says.

State Law Enforcement Division Chief Reggie Lloyd says he has no problem with the bill. But the South Carolina Sheriffs Association does, since it would mean people who've had no training could carry guns around in public.

"It takes more to get a driver's license in this state than it does to carry a gun under this bill," says SC Sheriffs Association executive director Jeff Moore. He says he hopes some kind of training requirement will be added to the bill as it moves through the process. Having passed a House subcommittee, it now goes to the full House Judiciary Committee.

But Rob Butler, with a South Carolina group called GrassRoots GunRights, says requiring law-abiding citizens to get some kind of training before carrying a gun does not necessarily make them safer. "Increased training requirements mean fewer people get concealed weapon permits and therefore more people are being killed, murdered, raped and robbed and beaten," he says, since they don't have the weapons with which to defend themselves.

Rep. Mike Pitts, R-Laurens, is a retired Greenville police officer who sponsored the bill. He says it's important to remember that the U.S. Constitution guarantees not just the right to keep, but also to bear, arms.

"There is no requirement in the Constitution for training," he says. "Should a person have training? Yes. The better trained you are, the better off you are handling a firearm. The more proficient you are, the better off you're going to be when you're trying to protect yourself. But it is not a requirement."

He says Texas, Montana, Vermont and Alaska have no training requirements in order to carry and they've had no problems.

The bill would require someone to be a South Carolina resident and a U.S. citizen in order to carry a gun. "We don't want illegal aliens to get the interpretation that they can carry a firearm here," Rep. Viers said during the subcommittee meeting.

The bill would also still allow businesses to prohibit concealed weapons, as they can now. It would also be illegal to carry a gun into a bar, although it would be allowed in a restaurant/bar, unless prohibited by management.

The bill would also add five years to the prison sentence of anyone convicted of using a weapon during the commission of a crime.

 

 

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