South Carolina took a step forward toward reforming its gun laws on Wednesday. The House of Representatives approved Bill H. 3930, legalizing the carrying of an open or concealed firearm by law-abiding gun owners without a license. South Carolina law currently requires a license to carry a concealed firearm, and does not permit open carry of a firearm outside of a vehicle.

“The bill is a very simple bill,” said Representative Mike Pitts (R-Laurens), one of the bill’s sponsors and a life member of the NRA. “It means, by definition of the Constitution, it gives you the ability to keep and bear arms without having to be permitted by the country.”

The bill also amends existing law concerning firearms on colleges and universities, which will probably drive a certain element on campus out of their minds: a gun owners could keep a firearm in a vehicle if secured and “concealed from common observation” in the vehicle’s glove box or console, or if locked on an external vehicle rack.

Carry of a firearm on campus generally would remain illegal, but the bill adds the word “knowingly” to this offense, possibly providing a safe haven for gun owners who throw their gun into their backpack and forget to take it out before heading to class. It also states that the campus ban does not apply to “any portion of the property leased to an individual or a business or to the occupants or invitees of such leased premises during reasonable ingress or egress from the leased premises.” Which sounds as though dormitories would not be gun-free zones under the bill.

South Carolina’s firearms licensing scheme would remain in place under H. 3930, to allow residents the opportunity to take advantage of reciprocity in other states that require licenses. South Carolina is the most unfriendly locale in the Old South to firearms carry by non-residents; the Palmetto State does not issue non-resident licenses, and recognizes licenses issued by fewer than half of the other states.

All other Southern states either recognize all other state firearms licenses, or automatically recognize licenses issued by states that recognize their own. This bill would also alleviate that burden.

Rep. Justin Bamberg (D-Bamberg), who expressed concern in an interview with Maya Prabhu of the Post and Courier that the law might not be enforced fairly.

Rep. Justin Bamberg.

If I’m an African-American male on the Battery in downtown Charleston and I’m open-carrying at 1 or 2 in the morning, which I’ll legally be able to do, is my very being, the very breath in my body going to give law enforcement probable cause to stop me?

Rep. Bamberg might have a legitimate concern about South Carolina law enforcement’s behavior toward ethnic minorities, but if he does, a law legalizing open carrying of firearms would remove probable cause for at least one vector of this sort of official harassment. Whether he intended it or not, Rep. Bamberg just gave a most eloquent endorsement for H. 3930.

Republican Mike Ryhal (R-Carolina Forest) was less enthusiastic about the bill.

“As I walk around and talk about it I keep hearing, ‘I don’t like this piece of it, but I’m going to vote for it,'” Ryhal said. “‘I wish this wasn’t in there, but I’m going to vote for it. Maybe when it goes across to the Senate, they’ll take care of this and we won’t have to deal with it.’ Really, folks? Is that why you were sent here?”

This isn’t the first time South Carolina has attempted to reform its restrictive gun laws; an effort made in 2015 (also backed by Rep. Pitts) withered on the vine. If Rep. Ryhal’s attitudes are shared, perhaps it’s easy to understand why.

The bill now awaits action by the Senate.

20 Responses to Is South Carolina the Next Constitutional Carry State?

  1. Hopefully this means I can add S. Carolina to the list of states where I can carry. Only state in the south that I can’t.

    • My CCW is good in SC +39 more, counting my home state, which honors all 50. Now if we can only get National Recip.

      • Iowa honors permits from all 50 states as well. Not that that means much to the assholes up north.

        • I hope your definition of “up north” ends at 42° 40’N latitude (Vermont, NH, and Maine). We all have Constitutional Carry up here.

  2. Maybe this time, it’ll make it…here’s hoping. I live here and have my CWP (which I will keep for reciprocity reasons), but I would love it if we could get this passed. Already e-mailed my state senator.

    • We have a better chance this year, Republicans took the Senate majority this last election AND here’s the best part a different Republican is Chairman of the Senate Judiciary Committee so no more Larry Martin!

      • Yeah, Martin is a worm…good riddance. I think you’re right..not going to be easy, but at least this time there is a chance.

      • Martin killed a similar bill last year. Hopefully it will get out of committee and go for an up or down vote this year. We’ve had this come up every year since 2012 and this is the closest we’ve been to having it passed.
        On a personal note, ate brunch with the family today. My aunt, grew up in rural Nebraska, married to an ex-cop, lots of guns in the house, when my step dad asked my opinion about the bill she spoke up from across the room against it. All emotional stuff about too many people being shot, anyone without training can carry, blood in the street stuff. Step dad was sitting next to me and agreed with her, but listened to my counters while she talked loud. Told him that 13 other states were Constitutional carry. He’s asked me what the closest state was, I answered GA and NC is open carry without a permit, concealed with. Didn’t say he supported the bill after but quit agreeing with the aunt. I call that a win. We have some hearts and minds to win.

  3. “It means, by definition of the Constitution, it gives you the ability to keep and bear arms without having to be permitted by the country.”
    Wow! That is such a great statement. My dreams consist of this mentality being applied to other areas of American life.

    • The Declaration of Independence recites what we hold to be “self-evident”. INDEPENDENT OF WHETHER THERE’S A COUNTRY TO COALESCE A LOT OF FREE PEOPLES AROUND.

      We HAVE formed a Country, it is called AMERICA. WE HAVE CONSTITUTED OUR LAWS (written a Constitution to tell each other [and the fing world] how we plan to uphold what we hold to be self-evident). So far it’s been ~ ok. BUT IF WE HAVE TO CHUCK THE WHOLE FING THING the Declaration of Independence has already been recorded IT DOES NOT HAVE TO BE REPEATED, AND CAN NEVER BE REPEALED OR AMENDED.

      FURTHER – IT’LL TAKE YOUR FING PELT ON THE SIDE OF THE BARN BEFORE WE EVER AGREE TO WRITE ANOTHER ONE. So help me GOD. We’ve already put history, and humanity on-notice. So kill yourself to uphold the Constitution, sure, BUT

      KEEP YOUR GUNS FOR THE END OF AMERICA

      YOUR RTKABA WILL OUTLIVE ANYONE’S RIGHT TO GOVERN OR INFRINGE UPON IT, AND ALL INTERLOPER AUTHORITY WILL SUNSET AN INFINTIY BEFORE YOUR RIGHT EXPIRES, and if you have a gun, you might have a better opportunity to have a vote in what comes next.

  4. Their Senate Republicans are notoriously anti gun. Like Florida’s. They’ll amend it to death or kill it.

  5. SC fixed the reciprocity issue with GA last year and that has allowed me to again visit the state. Thinking about going back to Edisto Beach for vacation this year.

    • I’m thankful that GA reciprocity finally happened so that we can now wade to the other side of the Chattooga legally whilst scaring away trout with poorly-placed dry flies and abysmal line mending. I now know where the other side of Burrell’s Ford Rd. Comes out.

  6. The Governor is a man and so far only female Republican governors have vetoed permitless carry legislation.

    This actually has a good chance of becoming law so far as it passes both houses in SC.

  7. Open carry of long arms and handguns over 12 inches is legal in south carolina but yes it s an very restrictive shall issue ccw state if you read the force of any no gun signs and off places and other details (not shall issue non residents and not honoring non residents permits for example)

    time for reform !

    • Libertarian, As a resident of SC open carry to the best of my knowledge is only legal while hunting period. If i have missed something, please let me know. At all the rallies I have attended though, i have never seen anyone open carrying a long gun ever.

  8. I called a bunch of my state congressmen or left them messages on the eve of the vote. This is such a big deal for the state and for our rights period. I really dont have a lot of faith in the Senate passing this as is but one can hope. I really enjoy it when our Senators say, “I’m pro 2A but….” There is no but period.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *