South Carolina Governor Nikki Haley (R) signed a law Tuesday to allow those with concealed carry permits to bring their guns into bars and other establishments that serve alcohol. But that was just the tip of the iceberg for Haley. As she signed the bill, she said she’d like to see another Senate proposal passed to eliminate the permit requirement entirely and allow open carry in the state.
“Criminals are dangerous, and I think that every resident should be allowed to protect themselves from criminals,” she reasoned.
Permit requirements are typically separate from laws that govern who can buy and possess guns in the state. In South Carolina, as in most states, the permitting requirement actually makes it harder for those with criminal backgrounds to be the ones toting the guns. While some crimes — violent felonies — bar individuals from buying or possessing a gun in the first place, a larger list of crimes bars individuals from carrying those guns outside their homes. What’s more, those who seek a permit are required to undergo firearms training. And permits must be re-issued every few years, allowing the state an opportunity to check for new crimes committed after an individual initially purchased a gun. Ending the permit requirement would eliminate both firearms training and the more probing, follow-up background checks that now exist.
South Carolina current prohibits open carry of guns, and sponsors say the bill would remove that limitation also.
Until 2007, Vermont was the only state that had a law eliminating permit requirements. But in the past few years, model legislation known as the “Constitutional Carry Act” has been introduced in many states, and become law in Wyoming, Arizona, and Alaska. Arkansas also passed a “Constitutional Carry Act” that seems to dispense with the permitting requirement, although it is still distributing permits.
South Carolina is one of the deadliest states for gun violence. The state sees a gun death every 14 hours. Police officers and women victims of domestic violence are particularly likely to be killed by a gun in the state.
The “Constitutional Carry” bill was introduced by State Sen. Lee Bright (R), who is running for U.S. Senate. Even with Haley’s support, the South Carolina bill faces significant opposition from state legislators and is unlikely to survive the Senate this time around, according to the State.