A state Senate committee advanced a measure Wednesday that would bar South Carolina from enforcing new federal gun laws. However, the legislation faces a tall hurdle moving forward after a Democratic opponent placed a procedural hold on it once it reaches the Senate floor.
The “Second Amendment Preservation Act” directs state officials not to enforce any federal laws or regulations that took effect after January 1 of this year and “limit the right of a person” to own or use firearms and ammunition.
It cleared the state House of Representatives 69-27 earlier this year, with all “no” votes coming from Democratic members (six supported the bill). The measure was proposed two weeks after President Obama signed a series of executive actions in January that tightened enforcement of gun sales and background checks.
Members of the Senate Judiciary Committee advanced the bill 11-8 Wednesday. Committee Chairman State Rep. Larry Martin, R-Pickens said the bill simply reinforces existing law.
“I think it’s pretty clear on immigration and other issues, you cannot require a state or local official to enforce a federal law,” he told fellow committee members.
But opponents questioned why the law is needed. “It’s some feel-good legislation that says we believe in the 2nd Amendment,” State Sen. Brad Hutto, D-Orangeburg, said. “But when it takes that the next step further and says the state is not going to enforce federal laws, I just don’t know that we have the authority to tell the federal government we’re not going to enforce the law of the land.”
State Sen. Marlon Kimpson, D-Charleston placed a “minority report” on the bill, which automatically sets it at the bottom of the Senate agenda with only two weeks remaining in this year’s session. It would require a two-thirds majority to move it up for a vote.
Kimpson is vowing to block every bill that seeks to expand access to firearms unless his colleagues give serious consideration to bills he proposed that would expand background checks for gun buyers. Kimpson has fought for tighter gun laws ever since a racially motivated attack at Emanuel AME Church in his district last year.