SC lawmakers move forward with bill that clarifies how state’s ‘unorganized militia’ can arm themselves

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COLUMBIA, SC (WSPA) — Supporters of a bill that would define the weaponry of the state’s ‘unorganized militia’ said they are trying to strengthen gun rights in South Carolina.

Critics said the bill isn’t necessary since the federal government is not trying to infringe on Second Amendment rights.

A Senate Family and Veteran’s Services subcommittee voted 2-1 to give S.614 a favorable report. The bill is now headed to the full committee.

According to South Carolina law, any able bodied South Carolinian over the age of 17 is a member of the state’s ‘unorganized militia’. The militia can be called upon the Governor ‘in case of war, riot, insurrection, invasion, breach of the peace.’

Through this law, Republican lawmakers want to strengthen gun rights by laying out how unorganized militia members can arm themselves in new legislation.

Senator Tom Corbin (R-District 5) said, “At the end of the day, the federal government cannot disarm a state standing army. However, there is no definition under South Carolina law as to what the weaponry is of our unorganized militia.”

The bill states: “an unorganized militia member, at his own expense, shall have the right to possess and keep all arms that could be legally acquired or possessed by a South Carolina citizen as of December 31, 2020. This includes, but is not limited to, shouldered rifles and shotguns, handguns, clips, magazines, all components, and all ammunition fitted for such weapons.”

Sen. Corbin said this would make members of the ‘unorganized militia’ exempt from changes to federal law. He said, “It’s been a concern of mine and others that the federal government may in some form or fashion try to do some type of limitation of second amendment rights. I.E: confiscation, mandatory buy backs, something like that.”

According to Sen. Corbin, he filed a similar bill in 2013 when President Barack Obama was in office. That legislation made it to the Senate floor but stalled there.

Critics said, of as of right now, they have not heard of any plans by the federal government and Biden Administration to take away people’s Second Amendment rights. Congress is considering some gun control legislation that strengthen background checks.

Sen. Kevin Johnson (D-District 36) said, “We have too much stuff going on right now across the country: Colorado, the events of January 6th. I think we need to pass some sensible gun legislation.”

During Tuesday’s subcommittee meeting he also pointed out a federal law would superseded state law under the Supremacy Clause.

Senator Corbin said he’s working on an amendment that would let the legislation stand. Right now, a portion of the bill states: “the unorganized militia may not fall under any law or regulation or the jurisdiction of any person or entity outside of South Carolina.”

S.614 would allow anyone to opt out of the state’s ‘unorganized militia’ if they’d like.

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