South Carolina Becomes 29th State with Constitutional Carry

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South Carolina Becomes 29th State with Constitutional Carry . IMG Jim Grant

The South Carolina legislature has approved the Constitutional Carry bill, H*3594, as recommended by the Conference Committee. The House approved the Conference report on March 5, 2024, with a vote of 86 to 33. The Senate approved the Conference report on March 6, 2024. The bill is expected to be sent to Governor McMasters in a few days.

The bill is close to what was passed by the Senate, according to the Greenville News:

Ultimately, the Senate version of the bill emerged mostly intact including the addition of enhanced penalties for repeat weapons offense violators. The committee also settled on places where guns may and may not be carried, the duty to report stolen weapons, and several provisions related to concealed weapons permits.

The members of the Senate appointed to the conference committee were Senator Brad Hutto (D) (Chairman), Senator Shane Massey (R) (majority leader of the Senate), and Senator Shane Martin (Senate sponsor of the bill). Senator Hutto had voted against the bill in the Senate. Senator Massey had opposed Constitutional Carry bills in the past. The three House members of the committee were the bill sponsor in the House, Representative Bobby J. Cox (R), Representative Micah Caskey (R), and Representative Justin Bamberg (D). All three representatives had voted for the House version of the bill.

The Constitutional Carry bill has a number of gun free zones. Churches, in particular, are assumed to ban firearms unless particular express permission is given. There are significant penalties for carrying firearms when a person is a prohibited possessor. Firearms may not be carried into places that serve alcohol unless the person carrying the firearm is not consuming alcohol. Members of the legislature have been removed from the list of people who may carry in the gun free zones.

South Carolina has been working for years to pass a Constitutional Carry bill. Bills have repeatedly passed the House with large margins, only to be defeated in the Senate with legislative maneuvers, such as refusing to allow the bill to be heard in committee. Senator Massey has been opposed to the previous bills. Massive public support for the current bill seems to be why Senator Massey agreed to pass H 3594. Governor McMasters wanted increased penalties for prohibited possessors who carry firearms. Governor McMasters has indicated he will sign the bill. H 3594 is not a perfect Constitutional Carry bill. Most bills are not perfect. This bill removes most infringements on the right of adults to carry loaded handguns in most public places without asking a government official for permission. As seen in numerous other states, it is better to take the incremental advances in the current bill than work to improve it later.

South Carolina will become the 29th member of the Constitutional Carry club.  When both South Carolina and Louisiana have Constitutional (permitless) Carry, 67.54% of the area of the USA will be in states with Constitutional Carry or, in the case of Florida, permitless carry.

The South Carolina bill will go into effect when signed by Governor McMasters.  Louisiana Governor Landry signed Louisiana’s Constitutional Carry bill on March 5, 2024. The Louisiana bill will go into effect on July 4, 2024.

Update: Governor McMasters has signed the South Carolina Constitutional Carry bill H 3594 into law on Thursday, March 7, 2024. The law becomes effective immediately.

About Dean Weingarten:

Dean Weingarten has been a peace officer, a military officer, was on the University of Wisconsin Pistol Team for four years, and was first certified to teach firearms safety in 1973. He taught the Arizona concealed carry course for fifteen years until the goal of Constitutional Carry was attained. He has degrees in meteorology and mining engineering, and retired from the Department of Defense after a 30 year career in Army Research, Development, Testing, and Evaluation.

Dean WeingartenDean Weingarten

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