A proposal approved by the South Carolina House on Wednesday would make it much easier for legal gun carriers in other states to carry in South Carolina, although the measure is unlikely to pass this year.
Current state law only recognizes concealed weapons permits in 22 states with similar requirements to get a CWP as in South Carolina (Georgia was given a special exemption last year). However, the bill approved by a 85-23 vote on Wednesday would expand the right to residents of 16 other states which already recognize South Carolina CWP permits on their own but have looser requirements.
“Why should we tell residents of a state like Oregon… we aren’t going to give you your constitutional right to carry and protect yourself because we’re better in South Carolina than you are?” lead sponsor Alan Clemmons, R-Myrtle Beach, said on the House floor.
But opponents say it would allow other states’ residents to legally carry in South Carolina, despite not passing a training and safety course like the Palmetto State requires. State Rep. Mandy Powers Norrell, D-Lancaster, noted other states allow those with previous criminal convictions to legally carry.
“This bill makes it easier for citizens of other states to carry in South Carolina than it does for our own citizens,” she said. “We don’t want citizens who are convicted stalkers to carry in South Carolina. I don’t think we want people from California who are convicted stalkers to carry in South Carolina, either.”
But Clemmons insisted CWP holders are not likely to commit crimes, since they already went through the process of getting the permit in their own state. “Those that are going to thumb their nose at the law, they’re not going to be the ones that this bill affects in other states,” he said.
The bill now heads to the Senate. With only one week remaining in the regular session, it is extremely unlikely to pass this year. But it will be on the Senate side once the session resumes in January. But supporters believe it has better chance of passage than another “constitutional carry” bill the House passed last month which would end South Carolina’s requirement for gun owners to even obtain or carry a CWP.
One change the House approved against Clemmons’s wishes added language which specified the bill only applies to those states which also recognize South Carolina CWPs. So residents of states such as New York (which does not recognize SC permits) would still not be able to legally carry in South Carolina. Clemmons had taken the position of recognizing CWPs from any other state, a position on which he said the National Rifle Association is adamant.
But lawmakers allied with law enforcement such as State Rep. Eddie Tallon, R-Spartanburg, insisted the fairness issue needs to extend both ways. “If we’re going to say that somebody in state of New York can come into South Carolina and carry a gun, but we can’t go up to New York and carry a gun, it doesn’t make sense to men,” he said.