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By Robert Davis

The first of four public hearings to take place across South Carolina convened in North Charleston City Hall Monday evening. It gave the public a chance to talk to legislators about SB115 that would make South Carolina the seventh state with Constitutional Carry. The Palmetto State currently requires applicants to attend an eight hour course, submit fingerprints, a photograph and pay a fee to the South Carolina Law Enforcement Division for their permit to tote. But under the new bill, all that goes away . . .

Hitting the highlights, SB115 would:

  • Change the offense of unlawfully carrying a handgun to carrying a handgun with intent to  commit a crime
  • Repeal the offence of carrying concealed
  • Remove references to concealed weapons permits and allow a private employer or owner to allow/prohibit anyone from carrying a weapon in his business by providing notice with a sign
  • Prohibit any person from entering a residence or dwelling of another with a weapon without permission
  • Amend the section dealing with people who are allowed to carry a weapon anywhere in the state while on duty, to include law enforcement officers

The vast majority of meeting attendees were there to support the bill. In fact, only one spoke against it. That was City of Charleston Police Chief Greg Mullen.

He argued for the concerns of officer safety, and questioned the wording of one particular provision in the bill. From

“I think when we talk about this, there has to be a balance, there has to be a balance between what the freedoms of the individual are and what the community safety is…The concern I have with this particular legislation is the fact that it creates for a law enforcement officer the necessity to determine what the criminal intent of a person is who is carrying a firearm,” Mullen said. “Under this legislation, the drug dealers, the robbers, the assaulters that we encounter on a daily basis who have not been convicted, this would be an open invitation for them to carry. So, I think what we would like to see is some discussion of how we can balance those things.”

The Chief left the podium to a rousing chorus of muted grumbles.

All the other speakers stepped up to the podium and addressed their comments to the bill’s benefits. One gentleman explained that his family had suffered several instances of violent crime and he had to pay over to $1000 to get them all permitted so they could defend themselves.

A few speakers pointed out that that they’re too old to outrun or outfight an assailant. Many spoke of the Second Amendment’s current threats and the continued erosion of all of our rights. Another gentleman told the panel of his seven children and 44 grandchildren that have all grown up with firearms and he’d taught each safe and responsible use of them. We heard story after story describing the world we live in and the roadblocks being put up to their natural right to self-defense.

One gentleman asked the panel of legislators, “How many of you have your CWP?” One member raised his hand. He repeated his question to the room, and all but a few hands were in the air. Pointing to the raised hands, he said, “They will be the ones protecting you on the street.”

It was a good turnout considering word of the meeting didn’t get out until the last minute. I didn’t hear about it until seven hours before it began. I only recognized one face in the crowd, and I know dozens of adamant supporters of constitutional carry.

One North Charleston police officer got a chuckle out of me when he approached a group of twenty-something members in the audience. “I can’t begin to tell you how glad I am to see folks in here not drawing social security.”

And he had a point. Looking around, I’d estimate that maybe 40% of the attendance was under age 40. But seeing the varying ages represented in the crowd gives us hope that the urbanization of this area hasn’t choked the life from the local gun culture.

There are three more hearings (Rock Hill, Greenville and Myrtle Beach) before bill goes to the senate for a vote. Judging from the response, I get the feeling it has a very real chance of passing.

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  1. I’m pulling for ya. I’d love FL to move in this direction, but I’d settle for the bill currently in play that decriminalizes brandishing in self defense.

    • People like to think that we in FL have it good as far as guns go. In comparison to a lot of yankee states, we do. But our state second amendment doesn’t enshrine a right at all because it expressly gives the state government the power to determine how we can bear arms in the language of the amendment itself. It’d be totally constitutional for our legislature to enact a blanket ban on carrying firearms outside the home altogether.

      That needs to be changed.

      Furthermore, our permitting system is an insulting, annoying roadblock. I don’t like being charged good money, being investigated, having to ask for permission, and being inconvenienced with paperwork all in order to legally carry a self-defense weapon. There’s nothing inherently wrong with carrying a gun so stop trying to demonize the tool and stop taxing me for carrying it.

      Make the penalty more severe if a bad guy commits a crime with one but leave us regular folks alone.

      It shouldn’t be “pay X amount of money and jump through X amount of hoops to do what we say or risk becoming a felon.”* That’s B.S.

      * Carrying a firearm without a license in FL is a third degree felony.

      So, anyway, I hope you guys pass this in SC. Good on ya.

  2. As a resident of the Palmetto State, I’m heartened by the support this bill has gained. I wasn’t able to attend the hearing in North Charleston, but I will make arrangements to attend one or more of the others.

    I hope this bill makes it into law. I submitted my CWP application on January 3rd, and am still waiting for approval (I’ve heard that 90 days is the average, but due to a high volume of applications since December, wait times could be longer). Never before have I been so keenly aware of how susceptible my personal safety is to the whims of strangers than I am now – knowing that I have means and ability to provide for my own safety, but no legal standing by which to exercise it until that piece of paper shows up in the mail. It is not a pleasant feeling.

    • By law you have to be denied within 90 days or you get it by default. Same as a NICS check and the 7 day limit.

      • Interesting… when I contacted SLED, that bit of information didn’t come up. I don’t think it was an intentional omission, but it would have been nice to know. Either way, thank you for letting me know.

        • It took me the full 90 days in Charleston. You WILL get yours in the 90 day period. That is the law. The problem is that there are only TWO people working at sled for every application and renewal for the entire state. That is their budget and they are regularly grilled by the statehouse about wait times, but no money ever gets to them for help. I called after 92 days of waiting, and was was mailed at the 90 day limit. They were very nice and helpful, just overworked for the tsk ahead of them. BTW, I never defend gov workers, I just understand their situation. You will have your CWP shortly.

      • Rambeast, I wish the laws applied to the government. SC may be different, but in IN the law says 60 days to approve or deny your PTCH. I’m at 75 days now, and from what I’ve read the average is around 120.

        • I live in Wisconsin,i took a hunter safety course (12 hr.),payed $50.00 and had my CCL back in 5 to love Wisconsin & Gov. Scott Walker…

        • That’s pretty good DT. One silver lining is in IN there is no requirement to take a class. Just do the paperwork, pay and then wait….

    • Nick, When I got my CWP I called SLED and was told that they get everything in order and hold it untill 90 days pass and send it. I got mine on the 93rd day. I waited from 1st week of March and had it the 2nd week of June. That wait is like forever but that card is one fine item to have in your wallet bro. Hang in there it’ll come. Peace, Gunnr

        • Nothing involving the government (state or federal) is done efficiently. That is, unless they’re retrieving money owed to them.

  3. Hmm, my CCW class is in April…I wonder if this will pass before or after I get my permit, that I now may or may not need?

    Am I reading this right BTW? Are they stating that you can carry CONCEALED? I thought Constitutional Carry was usually on the hip, and in plain sight?

    • Open carry, for all intents and purposes, is a strictly different concept in this context (at least from everything I’ve read). Constitutional carry specifically refers to concealed (perhaps any form of?) carry without need of a permit.

  4. I can’t speak for other states, but in FL, making an appointment to go by DOACS to apply for a CCL in person speeds the process greatly. When I got mine the wait was about a month, maybe a little less. My wife and I got ours in about a week and a half.

  5. Hope this goes through. Then I only have 7 miles of nonreciprocal state to deal with all the way to Florida.

    • If you have an SC permit, you can apply for and receive a New Hampshire non-resident permit ($100 fee). Between the two, you’ll have reciprocity throughout the entire South Eastern United States (as best as I recall, anyway… reciprocity can change frequently, but it is definitely worth checking out).

  6. Mr. Davis, do you have a link where we can find out more information on the other hearings? Date/Time/Location etc.

    • Meeting Schedule: 
      North Charleston Feb. 25 : 7 p.m. – 9 p.m. North Charleston City Hall, 2500 City Hall Lane 
      Rock Hill March 4 : 7 p.m. – 9 p.m. York Technical College, 452 S. Anderson Rd. 
      Greenville March 11 : 7 p.m. – 9 p.m. Greenville County Council Chambers, 301 University Ridge 
      Myrtle Beach March 18 : 7 p.m. – 9 p.m. Ted C. Collins Law Enforcement Center, 1101 North Oaks St. 

  7. Great. But I prefer to carry openly most in most circumstances. Does this bill recognize that right? Open carry is illegal in SC right now, even with massa’s permission slip.

    • Yes. It legalizes open carry. Section 16-23-20 (the law the used to ban open carry) would be amended to only bar carry with intent to commit a crime.

  8. Charleston native, this warms my heart. HOwever, teh problem with Charleston is that it is rapidly filling with NE yankees democrats who don’t understand what a Southern Democrat is.

    • My concern as well. I work with many liberally minded people at MUSC, but I have managed to win a few hearts and minds. I am going to invite a couple foreign national neurosurgeons to the range when I can find some ammo to use that won’t deplete my stock.

      • As a TTAGer from SC this news surprised me as well! Hell I only found out about it 45 min before it began and I live towards Myrtle Beach so unless I had a Delorean I wasn’t going to make it out to that meeting. The MB one, however sounds like I might have to stop by.

      • LoL – I guarantee you know my Dad. He’s been at MUSC for over 20 years. He’s not one of the libs you have problems with I assure you.

        • Indeed. If not for the ammo shortage, I am there almost every weekend. Unfortunately, I haven’t been since election day. =(

  9. I hope we still go the route to issue a permit on request with the same training so our reciprocity and NICS bypass stay with us. AZ issues permits to carry in other states. I live near Charlotte and pass through NC everyday. Without a permit for reciprocity I can’t have a pistol in my glove box let alone on my person.

    Having the option still would be nice. But if I lived in Columbia there’s no way I would need reciprocity on a daily basis.

    • Ditto. If they stop issuing permits, the fastlane check out at the LGS will be over, and we will all have to wait on the NICS response before taking purchases home.

    • Hmmmm…so if I assemble a SBR in state, I don’t need a stamp from the ATF? I’ll need to look closer at this bill’s language.

      • After a closer look, it reads like it is a block to additional federal gun regulation. It also looks like an open invitation to any manufacturers to relocate from hostile states to avoid federal bans as well. SC might get Beretta from the rumors I have heard. Outfits like Palmetto State Armory will benefit from this bill too.

        • It is a pretty good bill, and has been introduced a few times over the past several years. It isn’t perfect, since it doesn’t provide for protection against federal prosecution in the event that the Feds come in and start making arrests (, but it is definitely a step in the right direction.

          As for firearms manufacturers moving to the state, I’m all for it. So is Congressman Jeff Duncan, who has been in contact with Remington, Magpul, and several other firms in an effort to encourage them to relocate to SC (

          Anyway, contact your local representatives to express your support for SC S.85, and encourage them to consider an amendment that would protect SC residents from federal harassment should the bill become law.

  10. “the drug dealers, the robbers, the assaulters that we encounter on a daily basis who have not been convicted”

    Why are they not being convicted?

  11. Momentum. We may be the caboose in this train, but Illinois will have conceal carry. Meanwhile the states that pioneered the movement are passing more liberal (yes I see the irony) carry laws that will surely trickle down to some of us late comers.

    ( I apologize for calling you Shirley)

  12. I like the thing about the young people. I recently came out of retirement and went back to work. A couple of nights ago I was working with a 50 something guy and we got into the issue of guns. He was upset because he had never owned a gun and did not like them. But all of his kids were now gun owners. I did not soothe his hurt feelings.

  13. I am a Charleston resident and work with a politician. He is close to our Congressmen and Senators. We spoke to Senator Larry Grooms yesterday, and it doesn’t look good. Larry thinks we are going to be two votes short for this to pass.

    • Last minute notification might bite us. Most of the speakers did not have time to prepare statements. I forget the Senator’s name, but 2 speakers identified him as the swing vote.

      • Senator Greg Hembree is the biggest swing vote. I emailed and called him already. I urge all SC residents to do so as well. He told me he is undecided and is going into this with an open mind. His phone number is 803-212-6016. The more people that call him, the better.

        • Email sent as well. Hopefully messages from citizens not in their districts will have some effect on their decisions.

  14. “Under this legislation, the drug dealers, the robbers, the assaulters that we encounter on a daily basis who have not been convicted, this would be an open invitation for them to carry.” Charlston Police Chief Greg Mullen.

    Thus the Chief is telling us that drug dealers, robbers, assaulters — all people who break several laws in the course of their daily lives — will respect concealed carry laws and kindly leave their guns at home when they go out to deal drugs, rob someone, or assault someone.

    The Chief’s sentiment gets even better when we consider the rationale for “gun free zones” — those places where we cannot trust armed citizens with concealed carry licenses because they are likely to “snap” and harm good people.

    There is classic civilian disarmament logic. Society can trust violent criminals to obey the law but society cannot trust good citizens with no criminal record to obey the law. If this doesn’t clarify the insanity of the people that we are fighting for gun rights, I don’t know what will.

  15. I believe in Constitutional Carry — so I carry a copy of the Constitution right next to my gun. One protects the other from dunderheads like Chief Greg Mullen.

    • I live here. Chief Mullen is a transplanted Yankeenliberal that has no business being employeed nor living here. He can take his lib yankee carpet-bagging ass back north.

  16. “there has to be a balance between what the freedoms of the individual are and what the community safety is”

    Sacrificing individual liberty for the “good of the community.” More progressive fascist filth from the overlords in charge.

    Ah well, overall good news. Though still a drop of good in a sea of despair.

  17. Which seven states have Constitutional carry? I know that Alaska, Arizona, Wyoming, and Vermont do, but I am unclear what states make up the other three.

    • Vermont, Alaska, Arizona, Wyoming, Idaho (parts of), Montana (parts of), Illinois (parts of), New Mexico (unloaded).

      via Wikipedia.

  18. i intend to let my Concealed Handgun Permit to expire and not to renew, because free men do not request permission to bear arms.

    • and no, i don’t intend to stop carrying, concealed or otherwise, it just means i will no longer request permission. looking back i wish i hadn’t gotten one to begin with, because getting a carry permit is de facto registration; while they don’t know WHAT you have and where it’s located, they do know almost without a doubt that you do have something, and can therefore question your friends and family to find out what and where, or simply do a no-knock and/or warrantless search to find it.

  19. Does anyone know if this law would allow non residents the same rights? SC doesn’t accept any of my permits. I have permits to carry in 40 states including my resident home state permit. I should have the 41st state soon and I’d love to make SC number 42.

  20. Suppose you were in a crowded store with a pistol on your hip exposed. Would you feel uncomfortable with someone who looked sketchy standing behind you? A friend from Guatemala told me that if you let anyone know you have a gun then you WILL be burglarized or worse. Not that bad here, but you could easily be the victim of an ambush to get your open carry gun. Concealed is the best way that way no one knows if grandma has a .357 magnum in her purse.

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