Is South Carolina Really All That ‘Pro-Gun’?

handgun

OUR LAWS MIGHT SURPRISE YOU

A great deal of coverage was given recently to South Carolina’s successful wooing of Connecticut gun manufacturer PTR Industries concentrated on state officials’ – and especially the governor’s –  “personal touch” as an important factor in PTR’s decision to relocate. Equally important, some officials claim (and some in the media assume), is the state’s “pro-gun” culture.

As is often the case, however, when politicians take credit for these kinds of relocations, the company’s decision had less to do with our politicians’ charm than with financial incentives. Whether PTR received anything beyond state tax credits isn’t known because, in South Carolina as in most other states, these taxpayer-financed incentives remain secret.

What about South Carolina’s pro-gun culture? Actually, when the state’s policies are looked at closely, it becomes pretty evident that the state’s “pro-gun” reputation may be misleading – or at least that its actual laws don’t reflect its citizens’ general sentiments.

  • In the 2013 Freedom in the 50 States report by the Mercatus Center, South Carolina was ranked 35th (1st being most free) in the category of gun control. The measure was based on “direct costs of gun laws to gun owners and dealers as evidenced in sales, price, and ownership figures, as well as original analysis about how concealed-carry restrictions and costs are associated with the number of people who seek permits in each state.”
  • Our research finds only three states that impose an across-the-board prohibition on concealed weapons permit (CWP) holders carrying weapons into establishments that serve alcohol: Louisiana, South Carolina, and North Carolina (which has a bill awaiting the governor’s signature that would allow CWP holders to carry in these establishments). Illinois prohibits carrying in establishments where over 50 percent of gross sales are alcoholic products, and Florida prohibits carrying in an establishment whose “main purpose” is alcohol sales.
  • South Carolina is one of only six states that allow no form of open carry for handguns (carrying a handgun in plain view in public).
  • In the 2013 legislative session, 29 gun bills were introduced, of which 15 attempt to expand gun rights and 11 attempt to restrict them (three were roughly neutral). Of these bills only one became law, a measure that restricts gun ownership to those who have been deemed a “mental defective”
  • The anti-gun Brady Campaign’s most recent state scorecard ranks South Carolina as tied for 22nd in the nation (1st being the state with the most gun control).

As in other areas – tax rates for instance – the actual laws on the books don’t reflect the attitudes and assumptions of most South Carolinians. Whereas in this case the citizenry favors a more “libertarian” approach to guns, the laws tell a very different story.

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Related: Bill Advances to Prevent the Mentally Ill from Buying Guns

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