2 weeks, 4 days ago
Proponents of gun reform and House Democrats were rattled Thursday when they learned a bill that would allow South Carolinians to carry a concealed firearm without a permit advanced without debate or public input.
The proposed law, by Rep. Mike Pitts, R-Laurens, was met with no opposition during a hearing by the Judiciary Constitutional Laws Subcommittee.
It calls for what is often referred to as “constitutional carry,” which allows those who can legally own a firearm to carry it – concealed or in the open – without a government-issued permit.
“The right to carry is a constitutional amendment in the Bill of Rights,” Pitts said. “It is a constitutionally protected right, and that’s why I don’t think the government should (issue a) permit” for the carrying of a gun.
Pitts introduced a similar bill in 2016. But this year’s bill also would allow for “open carry,” which means a person can carry a firearm without having to conceal it.
The proposal does not change where firearm owners can carry their weapons. They would still be barred from carrying into schools and other already prohibited locations. And private businesses could still bar firearms from their establishments.
Carrying of a firearm while committing a crime also would remain prohibited.
The bill also would keep the state’s concealed weapons permitting system in place for those who would prefer that or need to have a permit when traveling out of state with a firearm, Pitts said.
No one from the public signed up to speak during Thursday’s hearing, which lasted about five minutes. The bill, which was filed Tuesday, passed with the support of the three Republicans serving on the panel. Reps. James Smith, D-Richland, and Mandy Powers Norrell, D-Lancaster, were absent.
Smith said he was out of town, while Powers Norrell said she was out of the country when both were reached by phone. Smith said if either had been present, they would have attempted to delay a vote, giving more time for word to spread to the public.
“The meeting was set Wednesday for Thursday morning,” Smith said. “It’s clearly being fast-tracked, which has undermined the ability for adequate public input because nobody had the time to react.”
The panel’s advancement of the bill without testimony from constituents or without all of the committee members present frustrated Sylvie Dessau, a local volunteer with Moms Demand Action for Gun Sense in America, an organization that calls for “common-sense legislation” to address gun violence.
“Simply put, this is not how our democracy works,” Dessau said. “We urge House leadership to reject this stunt to advance legislation pushed by gun lobby extremists. South Carolinians deserve to have a say in legislation that may impact our lives for years to come.”
But Rep. Greg Delleney, R-Chester – who is also the chairman of the House Judiciary Committee that will debate the proposal next – stressed the bill’s timing was related to the Legislature’s shorter session this year.
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Delleney said he thinks the bill will be well-received by members of the House. The House has previously passed legislation that allows for constitutional carry. But the bills have died in the Senate, with its rules that allow deliberation and easier blocking of legislation.
The State just had to consult moms against something or other. God forbid they write a piece on proposed gun legislation without talking to folks funded by Michael Bloomberg. You can almost sense the panic in the article.
Good on the S.C. House. We’re watching. Let’s push this thing through and get it done. Quickly. Use whatever rules you have to in order to minimize debate. One delaying tactic is to let bills like this rot on the vine by debating them forever, and then close the legislative session without taking action because, well, there’s just not enough time left to finish the job. You can finish this job and you know it. It’s also especially good that this bill includes open carry. For us, this is like Christmas. It’s most of what we want wrapped up in one present.
Larry Martin was thrown out of the S.C. Senate for delaying this action in the past, forcing it to dry up in the judicial committee. We watched. We took action. We’re watching you too, Senators. We’re watching all of you, and we will seek retribution on a name by name basis. Every one who delays or votes against this will be a target in the next primary or election. Do this thing. Get it done.
Don’t listen to LEOs who stand to lose money if you pass this bill. Very few LEOs ever want this sort of thing because it interferes with their revenue stream for buying the newest and latest Dodge Chargers and all of that new, fancy Comms gear and automatic weapons for the SWAT teams for throwing grenades and busting in doors. Listen to your voting constituency. That’s us.
We’re American gun owners, and we don’t compromise or forget.