South Carolina Close to Passing Permitless Carry in 2024

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South Carolina is close to passing permitless carry in 2024. IMG Jim Grant

The South Carolina Senate passed H. 3594 on February 1, 2024. The bill was passed in the South Carolina House in February of 2023 with a vote of 90 to 30. The Senate added a couple of changes in an amendment to the bill put forward by the president of the Senate, Shane A. Massie. Massie had previously been one of a few Republican South Carolina senators blocking the bill from passage. H. 3594, as amended, goes back to the House for a vote of concurrence with the amendment. The bill passed the Senate on a roll call vote, with 28 Republicans in favor, 1 Republican against (Senator Luke Rankin, district 33), and 1 Republican not voting, Senator George Campsen, district 43. One Democrat voted for the bill (Mike Fanning, district 17).  Fourteen Democrats voted against the bill.

Ultimately, the bill’s sponsor, Senator Shane Martin (R-Greenville), expressed satisfaction with the outcome.

“I think today we ended up with a bill of what I wanted to accomplish– which is a law abiding citizen being able to exercise his or her constitutional rights under the Second Amendment without interference from government,” said Martin. 

If the House agrees to the Senate’s changes, it will head to Gov. McMaster’s desk for approval. 

It appears likely the amended bill will be passed by the South Carolina House. The amendments are reported to increase criminal penalties for the illegal carry of firearms. The bill will also offer free training in every county.

The law wouldn’t change much about how a gun is legally acquired, but it does change penalties for gun crimes. In particular, penalties would be lessened for people who partake in gun safety training. While encouraged under the Bill, it would not be required.

“They’re going to encourage you to do it by the penalties. There can be enhanced penalties if you didn’t have training before and you just start open carrying or concealed carrying and you didn’t have the training,” said Republican Senator Katrina Shealy.

The free training part of the bill must be offered twice a month in every county. It also lowers the age to obtain a permit to 18 from 21. If a person commits a crime involving a gun and does not avail themselves of obtaining a permit, they can face additional penalties.

A carrot-and-stick approach offered by Senate Majority Leader Shane Massey makes the eight-hour training class needed for a CWP free. The State Law Enforcement Division must provide the course at least twice a month in every county — more often if the demand is greater — in hopes of also making it more convenient. And it lowered the age eligibility for a CWP to 18, down from 21.

If gun owners without a CWP commit a crime involving a gun, they’d face a stiffer penalty than someone with a permit. A conviction would bring up to three additional years in prison.

This is not a perfect Constitutional Carry bill. It is a significant permitless carry bill.

Free training, which allows for a carry permit for no cost other than a person’s time and travel expenses, will allow people who desire a permit to obtain one with little effort. There are some other minor changes in the bill, which are incremental improvements. Requirements for reporting stolen or missing guns, if you have a permit, are loosened from “immediately” to 48 hours. Permits would be automatically renewed without application.

If South Carolina passes this bill, there will be 28 states with permitless/Constitutional Carry. Louisiana is likely to become number 29 in 2024.

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.

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