Each new year means law-abiding gun owners in South Carolina need to be on the lookout for the latest assault on the Second Amendment. You may have seen discussions about bills that could affect your gun and self-defense rights. Here is a preview of some bills and issues that have been filed and raised (so far) that are noteworthy. However, please keep in mind that all the bills and resolutions listed below are currently proposals and not law.
2021 Proposals for South Carolina
While the last two-year term of the South Carolina Legislature produced no significant change to South Carolina gun laws, the next two-year term has seen the introduction of several pre-filed bills that could affect gun rights. The Legislature has the next two years to act on these bills or they will die in Committee, requiring them to be refiled for the 2022-2023 Legislative Session. Below are just a few of the bills currently pending in the South Carolina Legislature.
Perhaps the most important bills that have been pre-filed are the Constitutional Carry Bills H3039 and H3036. The South Carolina Constitutional Carry Act of 2021 proposes to eliminate Concealed Weapons Permits (“CWP”) and allow anyone, who is not prohibited by state or federal law from possessing a firearm, to carry on his or her person a concealable weapon. This bill would also:
- extend those rights to residents of other states when they are in South Carolina;
- add additional areas of the motor vehicle where unlicensed owners could carry their firearm;
- eliminate the need for a CWP by an employee at their place of business when authorized by the owner to carry a firearm;
- allow for any legal firearm owner to carry a handgun on school property, under certain conditions;
- eliminate the need for a CWP by a legal firearm owner when entering a bar, restaurant, or other establishment serving alcohol, as long as the legal firearm owner doesn’t consume alcohol while carrying a firearm; and
- allow a legal firearm owner to carry his or her firearm into any business not prohibited by law unless otherwise properly posted without a CWP.
A separate bill, H3503, eliminates colleges, universities, technical colleges, and other postsecondary institutions from the prohibited places a CWP holder may not carry his or her weapon.
Senate Bill S44 has also been pre-filed which would create two new classifications of Concealed Carry status: Confirmed Carry Status and Institutional Concealed Weapon Permit (“ICWP”). At the expiration of a CWP holder’s current permit, the South Carolina Law Enforcement Division would notify the CWP licensee that he or she had confirmed carry status and the requirement to renew the CWP would no longer be applicable. The new Institutional Concealed Carry Permit licensee would not only have to meet the requirements of the current CWP laws but would further require annual participation in a training course at the South Carolina Criminal Justice Academy. As a result, the ICWP licensee would have much broader authorization as to where and when they could carry their concealed handgun, such as a school or college event, daycare or preschool facility, church or other established religious sanctuary, or a doctor’s office or other medical clinic, etc.
One exciting new aspect of S44 is a proposal to make any premises owner who prohibits concealed carry on their property strictly liable for any injury sustained by a concealed weapon permit holder from the perpetrator of a crime. The proposed law would provide for damages and attorneys’ fees to compensate a permit holder if they are injured as a result of a property owner’s no-gun policy.
Federal Proposals on the Horizon
Last session, the 116th U.S. Congress proposed assault weapons bans, red flag orders, mandatory reporting of NICS denials to law enforcement, and countless other anti-2A legislation. All of these individual proposals were awful, but none were worse than the omnibus HR 5717 (Gun Violence Prevention and Community Safety Act of 2020), which would have incorporated the worst provisions of each of these proposals. If you want a preview of what anti-gun bills filed during the 117th Congress could look like, pay attention to HR 5717. The 117th Congress was sworn in on January 3, 2021, and their term ends on January 3, 2023. To learn about how federal law is made, check out The Legislative Process by the United States House of Representatives, and stay tuned. We are keeping a close watch for bills and resolutions that would affect Second Amendment rights.
For more information about 2021 legislation that could impact your rights as a law-abiding gun owner, contact U.S. LawShield and ask to speak to your Independent Program Attorney.
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