Open carry gun bill moves ahead in SC house

COLUMBIA, S.C. — A South Carolina House subcommittee passed a bill Thursday that would allow anyone who can legally buy a gun to carry it openly, without needing a permit or to carry it concealed.

Rep. Mike Pitts, R-Laurens, is the sponsor of the bill. “My reasoning behind it is it’s a Constitutional right, the Second Amendment of the Bill of Rights,” he says. He’s a former Greenville Police officer, but says he would not have been worried if this law had been in effect when he was on the job. “No, I treated everyone as if they had a firearm anyway when I was a police officer. I think all police officers should. You’re trained that way,” he says.

The bill now goes to the full House Judiciary Committee. The full House passed a similar bill last year but it died in the state Senate.

Rep. Wendell Gilliard, D-Charleston, says he’ll fight the bill if it gets to the House floor. “It’s a crazy bill, and it’s dangerous. We’re inviting trouble,” he says. “When you look at the amount of deaths in South Carolina, when you look at domestic violence and guns because they’re tied together, we have to do better than this.”

Even though Rep. Pitts is a former law enforcement officer, some law enforcement agencies are against the bill because it would mean people could be carrying guns when they haven’t had any training. A concealed weapons permit requires training. Rep. Pitts says he thinks anyone carrying a gun should have training, but it’s not a requirement in the Constitution. “The training that’s required for a concealed weapons permit now is minimal to begin with,” he says.

If the bill were to become law, the state would still issue concealed weapons permits for people who want to carry concealed in other states, where a CWP would still be required.

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