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Grassroots Gun Group Has South Carolina Politicians In Its Crosshairs

Second Amendment battle at State House …

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A pro-Second Amendment group in South Carolina is getting under the skin of incumbent state senators with its latest advocacy efforts in support of Constitutional Carry legislation.

Palmetto Gun Rights – which bills itself as the only “no compromise” gun rights group in South Carolina – launched campaigns in at least five S.C. Senate districts earlier this month in the hopes of applying pressure on GOP lawmakers who voted against their preferred legislation during the last session of the S.C. General Assembly.

“Gun owners took to the streets this month to make their voices heard,” said Tommy Dimsdale, the group’s executive director. “They’re tired of waiting for Republican supermajorities in Columbia to pass a clean Constitutional Carry bill while twenty-five other states, half the nation, enjoy their Second Amendment freedoms.”

“While these states took up the charge and addressed this legislation head-on, time after time South Carolina has caved on behalf of a few anti-gun members; and time after time we’ve seen many of those same anti-gun members lose their seats in subsequent elections,” Dimsdale continued. “Palmetto Gun Rights calls on those in Columbia, in the legislature and the governor’s office, to seize this opportunity – like Governor DeSantis has in Florida – and pass Constitutional Carry, instead of facing the wrath of the voters for their anti-gun records as they have for most of the past decade.”

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Lawmakers who were targeted by the campaign were displeased, referring to the group’s mailings, handouts and online missives as “misleading and inaccurate.”

One senator did acknowledge the effectiveness of the campaign, though.

“I’ve just been hounded – it’s been a lot – it’s been pretty intense,” senator Penry Gustafson told me earlier this month.

Gustafson’s district – which includes parts of Chesterfield, Kershaw and Lexington counties – was papered with mailings. The first-term incumbent said she is open to considering the Constitutional Carry bill (H. 3594) that cleared the S.C. House earlier this year, but acknowledged her personal experience on this issue has impacted her.

“I am not a hard ‘no’ or a hard ‘yes,’” she told me. “My gun views have evolved since my brother was murdered in 2004.”

“He was a victim, he was in the wrong place at the wrong time,” Gustafson explained. “Two kids who were trying to get into a gang decided they needed a kill before midnight.”

Gustafson said she planned on discussing her personal story in more detail in future conversations. She also added that she is pro-Second Amendment and has her concealed weapons permit (CWP).

“I’ve got my own CWP,” she said. “I’m a good shot.”

(Click to View)

Sen. Penry Gustafson speaks during a Senate Judiciary Committee meeting in Columbia, S.C. on Tuesday, Jan. 31, 2023. (Travis Bell/STATEHOUSE CAROLINA)

Gustafson also cited law enforcement opposition to Constitutional Carry, which some have suggested fails to incorporate adequate training safeguards.

“Our law enforcement is very much against it,” Gustafson said. “When the time comes I will be as objective as possible. There are many people in my district who are for it – and many who are against it – and they both feel pretty strongly about it. I do want the safety of the public to be the focus overall.”

In addition to Gustafson, the campaign targeted state senators Sean Bennett, Chip Campsen, Greg Hembree and Michael Johnson, among others.

There are concerns with the bill that cleared the House, too. For example, it expanded the current gun ownership ban on people convicted of certain felonies to include anyone convicted of a crime punishable by more than one year in prison – with the exception of certain business crimes. An amendment striking that section of the bill was defeated.

That could actually wind up making gun ownership more restrictive.

Wesley Donehue – a prominent political and corporate strategist based in Charleston, S.C. – told me the issue is far more nuanced than most voters realize.

“No one knows what constitutional carry means,” Donehue told me. “I’ve seen ten polls now. When you ask primary voters if they want constitutional carry the majority say ‘yes.’ When you tell them that means no background checks or training that number drops nearly 30 percent.”

Count on this news outlet to keep our readers up to speed on the latest regarding this bill and other Second Amendment legislation making its way through the S.C. General Assembly.

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ABOUT THE AUTHOR …

Will Folks on phone
Will Folks (Brett Flashnick)

Will Folks is the founding editor of the news outlet you are currently reading. Prior to founding FITSNews, he served as press secretary to the governor of South Carolina. He lives in the Midlands region of the state with his wife and seven children.

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2 comments

KC Voter March 30, 2023 at 6:30 pm

Penry is doing her best to ride that barbed wire fence and ride it hard. Her underlying intent is to do as she did the last time and bail on upholding her oath to uphold The Constitution. IF she does, hopefully she can be replaced next year. Her and Moms Demand go back a ways. She will do her best to side with them. Hopefully, her political ambitions see her to think better of that idea.

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Observer March 30, 2023 at 6:47 pm

“She also added that she is pro-Second Amendment and has her concealed weapons permit (CWP).

“I’ve got my own CWP,” she said. “I’m a good shot.”

Sounds like the same crapola that Katrina Shealy spewed when she ran against 2A turncoat Jakie Knotts, some years ago. Since then, her and her family have not only become ah buds with Jakie, she has done her best to make herself “Jakie in a skirt”.

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