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South Carolina Senate approves Constitutional Carry measure

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(The Center Square) — The South Carolina Senate passed a measure to allow South Carolinians to carry a gun without a permit, but a pro-gun rights group says a provision in the amended version of the legislation says it violates the Second Amendment.

The Senate voted 28-15 in favor of H.3594, the South Carolina Constitutional Carry/Second Amendment Preservation Act of 2023,

“Today, the South Carolina Senate took a huge step toward closing the ‘revolving door’ on career repeat criminals,” Gov. Henry McMaster said in a statement. “Stricter increased penalties for repeat illegal gun use and possession will keep these criminals behind bars instead of shooting up our streets with impunity.

“It was a collaborative and cooperative effort by the Senate,” the governor added. “My hope is that the House will concur with their improvements and send it to my desk immediately so we can begin saving lives.”

The measure returns to the House, where lawmakers will consider changes the Senate made.

“Once this bill is signed into law, every law-abiding South Carolinian will be able to carry a firearm anywhere it is legal to do so, without the need for a permission slip from the government,” state Sen. Wes Climer, R-Rock Hill, chairman of the Judiciary Subcommittee, said in a statement. “It ranks among the most significant expansions of individual liberty in this State in decades.”

The proposal bars South Carolinians from carrying a gun into some places, such as a courthouse, a polling place and a church without “express permission” or a hospital “unless expressly authorized.”

In a letter to House members, Dudley Brown, president of the National Association for Gun Rights, said the measure cannot be called “Constitutional Carry” as an amendment — No. 36 — “creates a new criminal penalty of exercising the Constitutional right to carry a weapon publicly without a permit.”

“This alone irreparably compromises a bill which was originally designed to honor the inalienable right to self-defense as enshrined in the Second Amendment,” Brown wrote.

“Not content with violating one provision of the Constitution, the Senate language goes on to trample the Equal Protection Clause of the Fourteenth Amendment to the Constitution by applying this new criminal penalty only to a disfavored portion of the South Carolina citizenry,” Brown added. “Under this language, individuals who exercise their Constitutional right to carry a weapon without a government permission slip are penalized criminally for doing so, if convicted of certain other additional crimes. However, individuals who commit those crimes do not get the penalty if they carry a valid concealed weapons permit at the time.”