By JEFFREY COLLINS | Associated Press
COLUMBIA, S.C. (AP) — Legislation to let people carry a concealed weapon without a permit has died for the year in South Carolina.
A Senate subcommittee took no action on two bills Thursday, deciding it would be better to hold more hearings on them after the Legislature adjourns next week.
One bill would eliminate the requirement for a permit to carry a concealed weapon in the state. The second bill would require South Carolina to accept weapons permits from Georgia, which has no training requirement.
Law enforcement organizations don’t like either bill. Former State Law Enforcement Division Chief Robert Stewart said the stringent training required by South Carolina is admired across the county and keeps police officers and the public safe.
“The person sitting nearby might be a Georgia permit holder and doesn’t even know how to fire a weapon,” Stewart said.
The bill eliminating the permit requirement passed the House by a 90-18 vote in April. State Sen. Lee Bright, who thinks South Carolina is violating the Second Amendment of the U.S. Constitution by having restrictions on when and where law-abiding citizens can carry guns, took note of the wide margin. His was the only vote in the subcommittee against carrying over the bills, which will remain alive because this is the first year of the General Assembly’s two-year session.
“Next year is an election year. I’m going to hold out hope,” said Bright, R-Roebuck.
Meanwhile, a proposal to accept permits from Georgia residents might get discussion by senators after failing to pass the House.
South Carolina currently accepts weapons permits from 20 other states, including neighboring North Carolina, but not from Georgia.
One of the bill’s main sponsors, Rep. Alan Clemmons, was at the meeting and said it doesn’t seem fair that South Carolina won’t accept another state’s permits because it doesn’t like how its law is written.
“We accept all states driver’s licenses,” said Clemmons, R-Myrtle Beach. “We don’t second guess Arkansas’ requirements. We accept them. Isn’t a car a dangerous weapon?”
Sen. Greg Gregory, R-Lancaster replied: “Is there a state in the union you can get a driver’s license without passing a test?”
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