By Robert Kittle
South Carolinians who can legally buy a gun would be able to carry that gun openly, without having to get a concealed weapons permit, under a bill in the state Senate.
Spartanburg Sen. Lee Bright is the main sponsor of the bill. “We believe it's a Second Amendment right that shall not be infringed, and when we require people to have permits to a certain right I believe that's an infringement,” he says.
But the State Sheriffs Association is concerned about the bill because it would do away with the current training someone has to complete before getting a concealed weapons permit. To get a CWP, a person has to complete the eight-hour course, which includes demonstrating proficiency with the gun on the firing range and learning state laws about where and when they can legally carry the gun, as well as when they can legally use deadly force.
Jeff Moore, executive director of the Sheriffs Association, says, “We think that educating people about where they can carry legally–because there are a lot of places in South Carolina where you can't carry it legally–is important. And we think it just as important that they know how to operate the weapon.”
When asked whether it would be dangerous for there to be people carrying guns without any training, if his bill becomes law, Bright said there's still personal responsibility involved in people learning how to use their guns. “Had a few states that've done it and haven't had any increase in violence,” he says. ” I mean, usually, law-abiding citizens aren't the ones out creating the crimes. If you look at Chicago, which has very strict gun laws, you've got a lot of gun murder up there.”
There have been two public hearings on the bill, one in Charleston and one in Rock Hill Monday night, and most of the hundreds of people who came to the hearings are in favor of the bill.
There are two more public hearings on the bill, including Monday, March 11th from 7-9 p.m. in the Greenville County Council Chambers at 301 University Ridge. If you're going, you should use the entrance by the flagpole. The other public hearing will be Monday, March 18th, also from 7-9 p.m., in Myrtle Beach at the Ted C. Collins Law Enforcement Center Council Chambers at 1101 N. Oak St.