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South Carolina Senate Debates Constitutional Carry Bill

“Everybody has a right to exercise their Second Amendment rights.”

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South Carolina senators debated legalizing the permit-less carry of handguns at the S.C. State House this week, taking up a measure which would allow any law-abiding gun owner to legally carry a firearm without first having to obtain governmental approval.

Senator Shane Martin of Spartanburg, S.C. – who was tasked with explaining the legislation (H. 3594) – reminded his colleagues “our Second Amendment is enshrined in our Constitution.” He also clarified that the state’s current concealed weapons framework – which grants permittees reciprocity in a number of other states – would remain intact.

The S.C. House passed constitutional carry last February, and the Senate adopted the House bill – although there is a similar bill moving through the legislative process.

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Senator Mia McLeod expressed concern the bill would worsen already alarming domestic violence rates in the Palmetto State, although Martin informed McLeod the legislation would not impact one’s legal eligibility to carry a firearm in a private residence.

McLeod next pressed Martin over guns in schools.

“What about schools?” she asked. “I mean, they still have 18-year-olds in school.”

The legislation passed by the House and taken up by the Senate would amend S.C. Code of Laws § 16-23-420 to prohibit carrying a gun “on any premises or property owned, operated, or controlled by a private or public school.”

(Click to View)

(Sabb and Martin Via: SCETV)

Senator Ronnie Sabb reiterated concerns expressed by members of the law enforcement community at the subcommittee level that the legislation would make criminals harder to apprehend.

“They want to know who’s carrying. Okay, I get that.” Martin replied. “But that’s not how the Constitution works. Everybody has a right to exercise their Second Amendment rights. And just because it maybe makes somebody with a uniform on feel a little bit uncomfortable that doesn’t mean we don’t need to do it.”

Senator Dick Harpootlian argued against the bill, telling his colleagues he’d been to crime scenes and seen people “screaming and yelling as they died.”

“It is a torturous, horrible death,” Harpootlian said. “And what this bill will do is allow more people to insert hot lead into people that are living and breathing and take that life away.”

Harpootlian then told the body that he had received death threats, adding that if anyone broke into his home “I will insert a piece of hot metal in you to protect me and my family.”

(Click to View)

(Harpootlian during the Murdaugh Trial – Via:Jeff Blake/Pool)

Senator Luke Rankin expressed concern that law enforcement officers wouldn’t have a legal avenue to search “suspicious” individuals if the bill passed by the House wasn’t amended. It was suggested by multiple senators that language be inserted to ensure the legality of searching gun-carrying individuals was equal to those who weren’t carrying a firearm.

Rankin was one of many senators to reference the dissatisfaction expressed by many members of the law enforcement community with the prospect of losing a legal avenue to pursue potential criminals.

Senator Greg Hembree recounted hearing similar exasperation from the law enforcement community throughout his career as a solicitor.

“I was a criminal prosecutor when the CWP law was was proposed back in the 25 years ago,” he said.

Hembree said he recalled his colleagues telling him the law would “be the end of the world as we know it” and that “there will be blood flowing in the streets.”

The predicted calamity never materialized.

Hembree fast-forwarded to his time in the legislature.

“We take up another gun bill … the one about going into restaurants, you remember that?” he continued “The argument was, oh my God, it’s gonna be the end of the world as we know it, there’s going to be blood in the streets. They’re gonna be shooting everybody in the restaurants … it didn’t happen.”

(Click to View)

(Governor Henry McMasterVia: Facebook)

Senator Stephen Goldfinch proposed an amendment which would allow businesses to distinguish between CWP holders and non-CWP holders in signage prohibiting individuals from carrying firearms on their premises. Shortly after debating this amendment the body disbanded to prepare for governor Henry McMaster‘s annual ‘State of the State’ speech.

While It’s too early to know how the senators will vote – or how the amendment process might alter the language of the bill – I spoke with Palmetto Gun Rights executive director Tommy Dimsdale after the floor debate on Wednesday to assess what election-year pressures lawmakers might face.

“Gun owners have been asking for Constitutional Carry for over a decade and this is the General Assembly’s best chance to pass it,” Dimsdale told me. “Gun owners turn out to the polls in just a few months so Republican lawmakers who vote for anti-gun measures on this bill, or vote against final passage do so at their own political peril.”

Count on FITSNews to keep score when debate on this legislation resumes …

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ABOUT THE AUTHOR …

(Via: Travis Bell)

Dylan Nolan is the director of special projects at FITSNews. He graduated from the Darla Moore school of business in 2021 with an accounting degree. Got a tip or story idea for Dylan? Email him here. You can also engage him socially @DNolan2000.

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19 comments

See Dick Say Stupid Stuff January 25, 2024 at 5:20 am

“Senator Dick Harpootlian argued against the bill, telling his colleagues he’d been to crime scenes and seen people “screaming and yelling as they died.”

“It is a torturous, horrible death,” Harpootlian said. “And what this bill will do is allow more people to insert hot lead into people that are living and breathing and take that life away.””

WT actual F does this have to do with anything, Dick? People die in pain every day. Whether from cancer, heart attacks, traffic accidents, burns, or other things, people will die painfully. This bill will just give honest citizens a degree of equal footing with violent criminals, who do not care if their victims (rendered helpless by gutless politicians like yourself) are in pain or not when they shoot their victims.

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Been There Seen That January 25, 2024 at 7:44 am

I am an honorably retired police officer. I am in total agreement with Senator Shane Martin that The Constitution and in particular, The Second Amendment, are not about making things easy for police or what makes them feel safe or unsafe. The Bill of Rights is about limiting government, preventing governmental overreach, and promoting liberty for We The People. What happens when police say it would make their jobs so much easier if they could enter a dwelling or business any time they liked, and conduct warrantless searches? Would people of Senator Ronnie Sabb’s mindset be for changing the Constitution and the laws to let police do warrantless searches whenever they felt it would make their job easier? I certainly hope not, but if he maintains that concern across the board, well…

As a police officer, I could carry most places, on and off duty and I did. I often mused that a citizen’s life and hide is just as important to them and their family, as my life and hide are to me and my family. For that reason, I supported any legislation that tended to restore carry rights to citizens to a par with my own ability to carry, on and off duty. Funny thing is, you invariably see a lot of Chiefs, Sheriff’s, SLED employees or sub-contractors, and the like; whining about how this bill or previous bills like the “Open Carry” bill, will make the jobs of their officers more difficult and dangerous. Most of my friends and acquaintances, both active duty and retired, support these restorations of gun rights. We realize that gun laws and restrictions only negatively impact the law abiding, the very people who are NOT the problem. Criminals, being criminals, will carry when they like, rob people, assault people, and kill people. They respect no law. As the guy above me noted, these gutless politicians want to keep the law abiding citizens helpless and at the mercy of criminals. I also question the motives of the aforementioned Police Chiefs, Sheriff’s, SLED employees, etc. Are they wanting citizens kept helpless for job security or funding reasons?

One final point, regarding those idiotic signs mentioned by one of the Senators. Those signs should never have been given force of law. There was much made over a bogus “need” to “protect property owners’ rights”. Their rights are already protected by existing trespassing laws. If someone enters their business armed and they detect it, they can tell the person to leave or secure their weapon in their vehicle. If the armed person refuses, existing laws regarding trespass come into play. There is no need for the signs to have force of law.

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Rich January 25, 2024 at 3:38 pm

Awesome response.

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Been There Seen That January 26, 2024 at 2:12 am

Thanks! Yours on here are likewise on-target!

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MICHELE HOLLEY Top fan January 28, 2024 at 2:12 am

Awesome facts and viewpoint

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Been There Seen That January 28, 2024 at 6:54 pm

Thank You, Michele Holley!

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Exterminate White Trash January 25, 2024 at 10:51 am

Hopefully this law will make it easier to kill Republicans.

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Rich January 25, 2024 at 3:39 pm

Stupid response!

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Mike January 25, 2024 at 4:02 pm

You are the epitome of a s*it brisket with that comment.

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Gx Top fan January 25, 2024 at 4:59 pm

Oh the irony…. Your ability to say that was established by, and continues to be protected by, Republicans and those with like-minded ideals and beliefs. You’re welcome.

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MICHELE HOLLEY Top fan January 28, 2024 at 1:53 am

Rest assured if Harpootlian thought it would in any way be detrimental to Republicans he would be in favor of passing it. Not passing it will be a detriment to Republicans at the voting booths.

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Rich January 25, 2024 at 3:46 pm

These elected officials need to get their shit together. Criminals are always going to be a threat to police as well as the public, they don’t care what laws you pass, they do whatever they want to do, it’s why they’re called criminals. With the influx of criminals and insane people from all over the world crossing our borders, the law abiding citizens in this country should have the right to protect themselves and their families without asking permission from the government. It is our God given right and it shouldn’t be taken away or modified by politicians. Pass the bill!!

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Mike January 25, 2024 at 4:02 pm

The Democrat arguement a in opposition has been less than sophomoric, time wasting if you ask me. “What about an 18 y/o in school?” Hey idiot…. The law still stands that’s not allowed.
There arguements are extremely poor and I know the other side is just giving them some air time, but end it already. The Constitutional right to have a firearm is EXACTLY what it is. Our GOD given right. If one doesn’t like it, maybe a move to Venezuela is in your future.

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Why? January 25, 2024 at 4:03 pm

According to the article, Greg Hembree sees the absolute folly in these idiotic claims that certain doom will befall society if gun rights are loosened in any way. Predictably, the shrill cries of “blood in the streets” and “the wild West” never came to pass. Please tell me why Greg Hembree is trying to hobble a great piece of legislation by supporting Stephen Goldfinch’s amendment to add more signage lunacy to the bill. Methinks Greg Hembree is two-faced.

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Anonymous January 26, 2024 at 7:53 am

I am a big supporter of this bill. However, they want to lower the age to 18. This I have an issue with. How old do you have to be to by a lottery ticket? 21. How old do you have to be to bye a pack of smokes? 21. How old do you have to be to enjoy a cold beer at dinner? 21. The brain stormers changed alot of laws to bring the legal age from 18 to 21 years ago. Why? Because they said the brain isnt fully developed yet and at only 18 years old, you are more apt to poor decisions and judgment. What? So having 18 year olds walking the streets with a loaded hand gun strapped to the hip is ok???? WTF is wrong here? Its sad. I have a friend back home who enlisted in the military. When he came home after boot camp, we couldn’t take him out for a beer. Old enough to fight for our country but not old enough to have a beer. This country is so screwed up!!

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MICHELE HOLLEY Top fan January 28, 2024 at 2:09 am

I follow your argument and agree in most part with you. Federal law prohibits the sale of handguns to anyone under the age of 21, thus they are not in legal possession of the firearm. A long gun such as shotgun or rifle can be purchased 18 and could be legally carried by an 18 year old individual.

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Been There Seen That January 28, 2024 at 7:14 pm

Hi Michele Holley! You are right in part. While the Federal background check system will not allow a retail sale of a handgun to someone 18 to 20 years old, they can be given a handgun by a parent or guardian; or, depending on the state, buy one in a private transaction. Current South Carolina law allows 18 year olds to possess a handgun such as one carried in a vehicle’s glove box or console.

Not sure what the law was then, but my biological father gave me my first handgun, a S&W 6″ .38, when I was 14. At 16 I had my first .357 Magnum as well as a High Standard .22 Magnum derringer. Working in a convenience store at 20, I kept the derringer and .357 with the blessings of my manager. This was back in the 1970’s.

Some states currently issue Concealed Weapons Permits to citizens who are 18 years old and older. There have been very recent lower court rulings that found (correctly, I might add) that prohibiting possession of a handgun and/or denying 18-20 year olds a CWP are a violation of their 2nd Amendment rights. As noted above, until a few years ago, Vermont’s Constitutional Carry allowed citizens 16 and older to carry handguns openly or concealed with no permit, until a bunch of idiots in their Legislature decided to fix something that was not broken and raised that age to 18.

Current judicial trends in other states are leaning towards 18 year olds being allowed carry, either with or without a permit.

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Been There Seen That January 26, 2024 at 9:21 am

I believe you can buy a lottery ticket at 18. You could buy tobacco at 18 until Trump decided to take that freedom from young adults. That you cannot buy beer at 18 is just wrong, in my opinion. We can thank the MADD mothers and Federal highway extortion money handlers for that bit of wrongfulness.

The ones who claim to know, say that our brains are not fully developed until age 25, if you really want to take that path. Are you willing to hand over your rights to self-protection until a third of your possible life expectancy has come and gone? Look at the number of young people who die while hiking in wilderness areas due to attacks by predatory two or four legged animals. If an 18-20 year old ventures into the wilderness, should they be made helpless because of their age? Ditto the mean streets of many cities and even rural areas?

Vermont has/had the oldest Constitutional Carry law in the Union, to my best knowledge. Up until a few years ago, under Vermont law, any citizen 16 or older could legally carry a handgun, concealed or openly, without a permit. I don’t recall ever hearing of Vermont having a crisis with youth gun violence. A few years ago, liberal idiots in Vermont’s Legislature felt it necessary to fix things that were not broken, and changed their Constitutional Carry to “18 and older”, as well as establishing magazine capacity limits.

I believe the time to stop treating 18-20 year old adults as third-class citizens has come, on many issues, to include handgun carry.

As with any age group, the criminally inclined will carry and use firearms of whatever design for wrongful purposes. The law-abiding, the responsible ones, are the only ones negatively impacted by restrictive gun laws. These are the ones who are NOT the problem.

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Dum Spiro Spero Top fan February 4, 2024 at 10:53 pm

“When guns are outlawed, only outlaws will have guns.” “When ignorant comments are outlawed, only outlaws will make ignorant comments.” See how stupid that sounds.

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