Constitutional Carry Now in Effect in SC After Governor Signs Bill

For a while, it didn’t look like it was going to happen for folks in South Carolina. In-fighting among the Republican lawmakers seemed like it would scuttle constitutional carry for folks in the state and amount to nothing.

That would have made anti-gunners there pretty happy, and they likely would have claimed all the credit they could, but the truth is that failure to pass the law would result in problems for law-abiding citizens who shouldn’t have to jump through hoops to carry a firearm.

Then earlier this week, a deal was reached. A balance was found that Republicans in both chambers could live with. At least, we hoped that was the case.

Now, with a stroke of the pen, it’s all over. South Carolina is a constitutional carry state.

Permitless firearm carry is now legal in South Carolina. Gov. Henry McMaster on Thursday afternoon signed the bill, which was prefiled in the state House of Representatives in December 2022. The legislation was heavily debated by members of the state’s House and Senate.
After a joint committee with members of both chambers met Tuesday, that committee’s report was approved by the House later the same day and by the Senate on Wednesday.
Rep. Bobby Cox, R-Greenville, told the Greenville News Wednesday afternoon that McMaster signed the bill into law at a private 2 p.m. ceremony. South Carolina becomes the 29th state with permitless carry after Louisiana enacted a similar measure last week.
The new law enables individuals 18 and older who are legally allowed to own firearms to carry them, openly or concealed, without requiring training or registration for a permit.
Previously, the 2021 Open Carry law allowed a concealed weapons permit (CWP) holder to open carry handguns. With House Bill 3594 – dubbed “constitutional carry” by some – signed into law, it negates the legal need for CWPs in South Carolina.

Now, this is a solid win for gun rights, but there are a number of places you can’t lawfully carry a firearm that were spelled out in this particular bill as well. 

According to the Greenville News, they include “hospitals, doctor’s offices, churches, many government buildings, schools, polling places, detention facilities, post offices, or personal residences without permission.”

Many of those aren’t especially different from the off-limits places in many other states, though it should be noted that churches and doctor’s offices can opt to allow firearms, which is really how those places should be anyway.

This isn’t a perfect law, but it moves the needle more toward freedom in South Carolina, which is what truly matters.

The legislature can start whittling back some of these off-limits places in future sessions, thus moving that needle a little bit more in the direction of freedom, especially after this doesn’t lead to some massive spike in homicides like proponents typically claim.

At that point, it becomes easier and easier to dismiss their claims.

In the meantime, South Carolinians can rejoice that they no longer have to jump through hoops in order to exercise their right to bear arms in their home state. As the 29th state to recognize constitutional carry, it’s becoming harder and harder for anti-gunners to pretend the majority of people support gun control.

And in South Carolina, it’s going to be harder and harder for criminals to just assume their prey doesn’t have teeth of its own.

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