Fewer South Carolinians are applying for and getting concealed weapons permits. The State Law Enforcement Division, which processes and approves or denies the applications, says last year it issued 64,412 CWPs, down from 84,494 in 2013.
The downward trend appears to be continuing this year. As of August 28th, SLED has issued 39,839 CWPs this year, which is a pace to issue about the same or fewer than last year.
Some instructors think part of the reason for the decline is saturation—the number of people who want a CWP and don’t already have one is falling. The other reason, they say, is a bill now pending in the state legislature that would eliminate the need for CWPs. Spartanburg Sen. Lee Bright’s bill in the Senate, and a similar one in the House, would allow anyone who can legally buy a gun to carry it without a permit.
CWP instructor Dr. Joseph Katz says, “It shouldn’t be surprising that the number of CWP applications dropped after word got out that the legislature was considering a bill to allow concealed carry without a permit. I doubt it will happen. When people recognize that permits will continue to be needed the number of applications should rise again.”
The Senate and House bills didn’t make it out of committee this year, but will still be pending when lawmakers go back to Columbia in January.