OCONEE COUNTY, S.C. – For over 20 years, Richard Belmore has been training people to get their concealed weapons permit.
“Mostly for personal protection,” he said.
According to the South Carolina Law Enforcement Division (SLED), there are 308,406 active CWP permits as of December 2016 and 41,405 new permits were issued that year.
“It’s not just CWP holders because individuals who don’t have a CWP can carry a weapon in their vehicle if they have it in their center compartment, in their glove box and in their trunk as well,” said Oconee County Sheriff’s Office Public Information Officer Jimmy Watt.
The Oconee County Sheriff’s Office wants gun owners to know what to do when they see those blue lights in their rear view mirror.
“During traffic stops I have conducted in my career, there have been many times that CWP holders have provided their permits at the same time when they provide their license or other information,” said Captain Underwood in a release. “When I have been provided that information from our citizens, I have asked them if they have their weapon in the vehicle with them and if so, where the weapon is located at. We also advise motorists not to make a lot of sudden movements and to remain calm and honest. It might also be a good idea to let officers know where information is located in your vehicle or on your person in traffic stop and tell the officer where you will be reaching in order to provide the information requested.”
According to the Sheriff’s Office, it is unlawful for a person to carry a handgun on their person, under the car seat or in plain view in the vehicle if they are not a licensed CWP holder, regardless if it loaded or unloaded.
“It is the location that matters in regards to the law,” said Captain Underwood. “This does not apply to long guns; however, regardless of the type of firearm, the trunk is always the safest location. If the vehicle is a truck, a locked hard-shell case is the safest method of transporting.”
It’s advice Belmore says it’s helpful for the sheriff’s office to share.
“It’s really important because unless you take a concealed weapons class, this information isn’t really something that’s available to you,” said Belmore.
With traffic stops happening everyday the sheriff’s office wants to keep citizens and law enforcement officers safe.
“What we try to do is to be proactive and get out in front of any issues that may occur,” said Watt.