South Carolina House Returns Constitutional Carry Bill to Senate

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South Carolina House Returns Constitutional Carry Bill to the Senate IMG Jim Grant

On February 13, 2024, the South Carolina House rejected changes to the Constitutional Carry bill, which was passed in the South Carolina Senate in January. The House re-passed the bill as it was previously overwhelmingly passed by the House in 2022. The vote for H 3594 was 85 to 26, with 8 house members not voting and four house members on excused absences. The House Majority leader, Davey Hiott explained the action. From X:

“While I respect the intentions and efforts of the Senate, the House Republican Caucus remains united in our decision to non-concur with the senate’s changes. We will return a clean version of the Constitutional Carry – Second Amendment Preservation Act to the Senate next week, the exact version that was overwhelmingly passed by the House last year. Our dedication to protecting the Second Amendment rights of law-abiding citizens remains steadfast. It is our firm belief that this bill, in its original form, best reflects the fundamental rights and feedoms of our constituents.”

– House Majority Leader Davey Hiott

Governor McMaster may be backing away from his promise to sign the Constitutional Carry bill if it passes. From X:

“For over two years law enforcement and victims of crime have been begging this General Assembly to pass a bill with stricter increased penalties for illegal gun use and possession. This is how we keep career criminals behind bars and not out on bond shooting and killing innocent South Carolinians.”

“The public is losing confidence. So am I.”

– Governor Henry McMaster.

Because the bill has already been to the full Senate, it does not have to go through a Senate committee again. It may need to overcome a filibuster.  If the Senate insists on its amendment, three senators are appointed to a conference committee. Two of those are appointed by the President of the Senate. One is appointed by the Chairman of the committee, which has jurisdiction over the bill.  The speaker of the House appoints three House members to the conference committee. The conference committee has to reach an agreement on changes, and then those changes have to be approved by both the House and the Senate.

It has been reported the Senate will appoint members to a conference committee. A compromise acceptable to both sides seems possible.

When a conference committee will be appointed, who the members might be, and when they may meet are all questions to be answered. Thomas Alexander, District 1, is the Republican President of the Senate. He voted for H 3594 in the Senate. He has the power to appoint two members to the conference committee. The judiciary committee chair, Senator Luke Rankin, District 33, will appoint one member to the conference committee. Senator Rankin voted against H 3594.

The majority leader in the Senate, Shane Massey, has been against Constitutional Carry bills in the past. He was a leader who insisted on amendments in the Senate. He is quoted as saying he believes there will be movement in the conference committee before April. From

“I think waiting until then probably makes it worse,” Massey said. “I haven’t heard that there’s going to be any effort to delay the conference committee meetings from trying to get an agreement. I think everybody would like to work out the issue if we can.”

Second Amendment supporters in South Carolina have been working to pass Constitutional Carry (permitless) for over a decade. Some version of it appears likely to pass this year. If a version of Constitutional Carry passes, South Caroling will be the 28th state to enact a version of permitless carry. Louisiana is likely to pass a Constitutional Carry bill next.

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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