Creating Weapons Purchase Permits

S.942 is truly Orwellian. The bill would require any state resident to obtain a “weapons purchase permit” from the State Law Enforcement Division (SLED) before buying a firearm or ammunition in South Carolina. In order to obtain the permit an individual would have to be 21 years of age and show proof of having taken a firearm training course, or be:

  • ex or current military,
  • ex law enforcement,
  • an active duty police handgun instructor, a person who has a SLED-certified or approved competitive handgun shooting classification,
  • a person who can demonstrate to the Director of SLED or his designee that he has a proficiency in both the use of handguns and state laws pertaining to handguns.

A permit applicant would also have to pay a $40 application fee (waived for disabled veterans and retired law enforcement officers), submit a complete set of fingerprints, and pass a background check. A weapons purchase permit would have to be renewed every three years for a $25 renewal fee. Applicants for renewal would have to pass another background check. A permit holder would be legally obligated to report the loss of theft of a weapons purchase permit, failure to do so would be a misdemeanor subject to a $25 fine.

Under the law SLED would publish a report each year regarding the following information as it relates to the previous year

  • the number of permits
  • the number of permits that were issued
  • the number of permit applications that were denied
  • the number of permits that were renewed
  • the number of permit renewals that were denied
  • the number of permits that were suspended or revoked
  • the name, address, and county of a person whose permit was revoked, including the reason for the revocation
  • a breakdown of such information by county

This bill is nothing less than an attempt to trample on the 2nd amendment rights of every South Carolinian. Under S.942 any South Carolinian would have to pay a fee and go through a government screening process before he or she could engage in a constitutional right. S.942 would violate the individual right to keep and bear arms as affirmed by the Supreme Court in DC V. Heller, and McDonald V. Chicago. It is highly improbable that S.942 would survive a legal challenge on constitutional grounds.

A Constitutional right is meant to be guaranteed, not something that requires an extra layer of permission from the government before it can be exercised.

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