ANALYSIS: Constitutional Carry
ON CARRYING FIREARMS, THE PRESUMPTION SHOULD BE ONE OF LIBERTY
S.105 and companion bills S.570 and H.3716 are all attempts to enact a policy of “constitutional carry.” If passed, any of the bills would make South Carolina the seventh state to legalize constitutional carry. Maine became the sixth state to do so on July 8.
Anyone over 21 who is legally allowed to own a handgun in the state would be able to carry that handgun in public either openly (in plain sight) or concealed, without the requirement of a concealed weapons permit (CWP). (See our fuller analysis of the issue here.) Citizens who still want to obtain a CWP in order to carry in other states that have reciprocity with South Carolina would still be able to do so. The bills would still allow businesses or other property-owners to restrict weapons on their premises if they have legally posted a sign stating the prohibition (“No Weapons Allowed”). And the bills would still prohibit carrying a weapon into the residence or dwelling place of another person without the permission of the owner.
S.105, S.570, and H.3716 are all full constitutional carry bills. These bills stand in contrast to H.3025, which would allow for the unlicensed carrying of a concealed firearm, but would continue to forbid citizens from openly carrying handguns. That would probably be an improvement over existing law, but it falls short of constitutional carry. H.3025 was drafted as a bill to expand the number of states from which South Carolina would recognize a concealed carry permit; it was later amended on the House floor, on motion of Rep. Mike Pitts (R-Laurens), into its current form. Earlier in the same day, Rep. Jonathan Hill (R-Anderson) attempted to amend H.3025 to bring it line with the above mentioned constitutional carry bills. But that attempt failed.
In any case, S.10, S.507, and H.3716 would all help to restore the promise of the Second Amendment in South Carolina. To keep and bear arms is a right afforded by the U.S. constitution, not a privilege afforded by local or state governments, and it should not be prohibited outright or made conditional by requiring permits and fees. And as a practical concern, there is precious little evidence suggesting that gun control measures have ever helped to reduce violent crime. In considering any policy to limit the purchase or carrying of firearms, therefore, the presumption should be one of liberty.