SC Senate continues debate on latest gun bill
The South Carolina State Senate is in the second week of debate regarding a bill that would allow handguns to be carried openly in the state.
House bill 3594, known as “Constitutional Carry,” is supported by most Republicans in the General Assembly and Republican Gov. Henry McMaster. It has already won passage in the House of Representatives.
Under current state law, a handgun may be openly carried if the owner has been issued a Concealed Weapons Permit (CWP) after completing a gun safety course.
Supporters of the bill claim the Second Amendment of the United States Constitution guarantees that anyone age 18 or older, and who legally owns a handgun should be able to carry the weapon openly without training or a permit.
During the Senate floor debate last week, the bill’s leading supporter, Sen. Shane Martin (R-Spartanburg) said, “If you want to carry a weapon and exercise your constitutional right to do so, you don’t have to have permission from government.”
Democrats oppose “Constitutional Carry” citing opposition by law enforcement that open carry without training could pose a danger to the public.
During a Senate Judiciary subcommittee in 2023, police chiefs from Anderson, Columbia, Conway, and Myrtle Beach were concerned about untrained residents openly carrying.
“As law enforcement, we train, and we train, and we train some more, and we still make mistakes. With this legislation, we are asking the public no longer to be required to train and expect the same results,” Myrtle Beach Police Chief Amy Prock said.
Law enforcement officials added during that session that the bill does not address mental health and they worry about the consequences.
“This puts our law enforcement officers in a position to fail,” Columbia Police Chief Skip Holbrook said.
Debate on the bill in the Republican-controlled Senate is expected to last most of this week.