South

SC Senate to discuss allowing guns without a permit

SOCASTEE, S.C. (WBTW) - South Carolina senators will talk about a bill that would loosen the requirements for carrying a gun. That bill did not move last year, but it may this year. It was first introduced to the Senate last February and would allow South Carolinians to carry a firearm without a permit.

Right now, if you wanted to legally carry a gun, you would have to sit for about an eight-hour class and go through hands-on exercises. But if the bill, which permits "constitutional carry" moves forward, you could basically walk out of a gun shop without any training.

"I think our law as it sits right now works, and I don't see a need to fix it," said Robert Battista, who owns the 707 Gun Shop in Socastee, and while he is pro-Second Amendment, he is also pro-training.

"Yes, you have the right to bear arms," he said, "but you have the responsibility to do it within the confines of the law."

His shop offers concealed weapons permits, or CWPs, but the bill in Columbia would get rid of the need for those.

"Constitutional carry would basically allow someone to just take a gun, strap it on and walk out their door and carry," Battista said.

Senator Stephen Goldfinch, who is on the judiciary committee discussing the bill Tuesday, said it is a restoration of rights as the founding fathers intended them.

"My reading of the Constitution doesn't require a permit or a training course of any kind to carry a firearm," he told News13 on the phone Monday. "It's guaranteed by the Second Amendment."

He said responsible gun owners should take it upon themselves to get trained, but it should not be required.

"That may make a lot of people nervous," he said, "but there's also a lot of other things in the Constitution that make a lot of people nervous."

State Rep. Tim McGinnis is one of those with reservations.

"I just think it's something we need to be very, very careful with," he said.

McGinnis explained he is not necessarily against the bill but wants to see an educational component.

"It's common sense. It makes sense for the safety of my kids, of your kids. It's something that we need to be really careful when we look at it."

This bill would not mean that you could carry a firearm into an established gun-free zone, like schools or private businesses.

It is on the judiciary committee's agenda for Tuesday.

Senator Goldfinch said he expects the committee to pass it. The House passed a "constitutional carry" bill in April.

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