COLUMBIA, S.C. (WSPA) — Supporters of expanding gun rights in South Carolina are hopeful the Senate will take action on either the Open Carry with Training Act or Constitutional Carry Act of 2021.
Both bills already passed in the House earlier this year.
The Open Carry with Training bill would allow anyone with a concealed weapon permit (CWP) to openly carry a handgun. The Constitutional Carry Act of 2021 would allow anyone who can legally own a gun to carry it openly.
Both bills are currently residing in the Senate Judiciary Committee. As of Thursday afternoon, no meetings have been scheduled for either of these bills according to the State House website.
Supporters are hopeful the Senate will take action before the end of the session so the bills can become law this year.
Co-sponsor Rep. Stewart Jones (R-District 14) said, “If you have law-abiding citizens carrying that’s a deterrent to crime, especially violent crimes. That helps us, in the long run, become a safer state.”
Supporters in the state Senate said they’re hopeful there will be a vote on at least one of the bills on the Senate floor this year.
“I’m really not frustrated. I understand why constituents are worried,” said Sen. Josh Kimbrell (R-District 11). “If I did not think we’d get a vote on a second amendment bill this year, I’d have more anxiety.”
Many Democrats and law enforcement officials across the state oppose both bills. They said it could lead to more violence during disagreements.
Charleston Police Department Chief Luther Reynolds told lawmakers it could lead to dangerous situations at protests and counter-protests.
“Adding the open carrying of handguns raises tensions and increases the potential for loss of life and serious bodily injury,” he said. “It also makes it more difficult for law enforcement when large numbers of individuals are openly carrying handguns.”
We reached out to Senate Judiciary Chairman Sen. Luke Rankin (R-District 33) on whether or not these bills will get a hearing in his committee this year. We have not heard back.
If these bills do not pass this year, they’ll still have a shot next year, as 2022 is the second year of a two-year legislative session.