SC Governor Expected To Sign Permitless Open Carry Law

by Tommy Grant

South Carolina is nearing the approval of a bill allowing legal gun owners to openly carry their firearms. The bill imposes stricter penalties for repeated unauthorized gun carrying in prohibited areas like schools and courthouses, and for crimes committed with a gun. Additionally, it allocates millions for free gun training, required for obtaining a concealed carry permit.

The House passed the bill with a majority of Republicans in favor and Democrats against. South Carolina’s governor is expected to sign the bill, aligning the state with nearly 30 others that permit open carrying without a permit.

The House and Senate had previously passed differing versions of the bill. A key point of contention was the additional penalties for not adhering to gun training requirements and carrying rules. A compromise, leaning more towards the Senate’s version, was reached by a conference committee. This compromise removed a provision that would have allowed legislators to carry guns almost anywhere.

Law enforcement officials expressed concerns about the bill, particularly regarding the lack of mandatory public carrying training and the challenges it poses to officers at shooting scenes. To address these concerns, the bill includes a new state crime for weapon possession by felons, mirroring federal penalties. This provision was crucial for Governor Henry McMaster’s support.

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