South Carolina Adopts “Constitutional Carry” Legislation with Stricter Penalties for Illegal Gun Possession

On Thursday, South Carolina Governor Henry McMaster signed into law H.3594, commonly known as the “permitless carry” or “constitutional carry” bill. The legislation makes South Carolina the 29th state in the United States to implement constitutional carry, allowing individuals aged 18 and older to openly carry loaded handguns without the need for a permit or training.

In a statement, Governor McMaster highlighted that the new law serves to expand the Second Amendment rights of law-abiding citizens. Simultaneously, it includes provisions for increased penalties targeting illegal gun use and possession, specifically focusing on felons in possession of firearms, despite legal restrictions.

The South Carolina Senate had approved the bill on Wednesday, allowing it to advance to the governor’s desk. Lawmakers had reached a compromise earlier in the week, defining the parameters for open carry without a permit or training while retaining certain restrictions. Firearms remain prohibited in designated areas such as schools, courthouses, and the State House. The option for obtaining a concealed weapons permit is still available to those who choose to do so.

Governor McMaster asserted that the new law equips law enforcement, prosecutors, and judges with enhanced tools to keep career violent criminals incarcerated, thereby safeguarding innocent South Carolinians. While conservative groups have strongly supported the legislation, Democrats in South Carolina and several regional police chiefs have expressed concerns, particularly regarding the removal of training requirements and its potential impact on public safety.


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