Many gun related bills are in consideration in the South Carolina Legislature right now. This article focuses on the Open Carry Bill. Check back later for an article about the Constitutional Carry Bill 3039 and its alternative H. 3096.
The Open Carry Bill is sponsored by Representatives B. Cox, White, Lucas, Burns, Jones, Allison, Caskey, Chumley, Collins, Crawford, Daning, Davis, Elliott, Erickson, Felder, Forrest, Fry, Gagnon, Gatch, Gilliam, Haddon, Hardee, Hewitt, Hiott, Hixon, Huggins, Jordan, Kimmons, Ligon, Long, Magnuson, McCravy, Morgan, Murphy, B. Newton, W. Newton, Nutt, Oremus, Pope, Simrill, G.M. Smith, G.R. Smith, M.M. Smith, Stringer, Taylor, Thayer, Trantham, West, Whitmire, Willis, Wooten, Yow, McGarry, Bryant, V.S. Moss, T. Moore, McCabe, Hosey, W. Cox, Bailey, Lowe, Atkinson, J.E. Johnson, Brittain, Bennett, Hyde, Sandifer, McGinnis and Martin.
H. 3094 was introduced in the House on January 12, 2021. As of this writing it is currently residing in the House Committee on Judiciary.
H. 3094 allows open carry under same conditions as the currently allowed concealed carry. You still need a permit and certain locations such as schools and government buildings remain off limits.
I will go through this bill with you section by section to give you an idea what it will mean for you if it is passed.
Which Legislators Introduced the Bill
On the list of sponsors you will find South Carolina legislators who love the US Constitution and want South Carolina citizens to retain our civil rights. It’s a long list and several names have been added since the original introduction.
I have interacted personally with Bill Chumley, Roger Nutt, and Josiah Magnuson and found them to be supporters of the US Constitution’s Second Amendment. All three are personable and interested in executing the will of the people in their legislative efforts.
Roger Nutt told me the best way to interact with a legislator is on an individual level. Send an email or make a phone call if you want your legislator to respond, because the form letters don’t get the same consideration as something you composed yourself.
I just used this link to scstatehouse.gov to send all the House members a message in my own words. The same website will tell you which members are in your district.
My State Representative is Travis Moore and my State Senator is Shane Martin.
You Can Still Prohibit Weapons On Your Property
Amend the bill, as and if amended, by adding the following appropriately numbered SECTIONS: /SECTION ___. Section 23-31-220 of the 1976 Code is amended to read:
“SECTION 23-31-220. Nothing contained in this article shall in any way be construed to limit, diminish, or otherwise infringe upon:
(1) the right of a public or private employer to prohibit a person who is licensed under this article from carrying a concealable or open carry weapon upon the premises of the business or work place or while using any machinery, vehicle, or equipment owned or operated by the business;
(2) the right of a private property owner or person in legal possession or control to allow or prohibit the carrying of a concealable or open carry weapon upon his premises.
The posting by the employer, owner, or person in legal possession or control of a sign stating ‘No Concealable or Open Carrying of Weapons Allowed’ shall constitute notice to a person holding a permit issued pursuant to this article that the employer, owner, or person in legal possession or control requests that concealable or open carry weapons not be brought upon the premises or into the work place. A person who brings a concealable or open carry weapon onto the premises or work place in violation of the provisions of this paragraph may be charged with a violation of Section 16-11-620. In addition to the penalties provided in Section 16-11-620, a person convicted of a second or subsequent violation of the provisions of this paragraph must have his permit revoked for a period of one year. The prohibition contained in this section does not apply to persons specified in Section 16-23-20, item (1).”
The bill starts by reinforcing the right of a property owner or employer to prohibit open carry on his or her land. If your organization would not benefit from having visible weapons, you don’t have to allow your employees to carry openly or in concealment.
For those who decide to carry a weapon, this means you have to pay attention to postings. If your weapon is out in the open, it will be easy to identify someone who is violating this provision.
The Rules For Posting Signs
SECTION ___. Section 23-31-235 of the 1976 Code is amended to read:
“Section 23-31-235. (A) Notwithstanding any other provision of this article, any requirement of or allowance for the posting of signs prohibiting the carrying of a concealable or open carry weapon upon any premises shall only be satisfied by a sign expressing the prohibition in both written language interdict and universal sign language.
(B) All signs must be posted at each entrance into a building where a concealable or open carry weapon permit holder is prohibited from carrying a concealable or open carry weapon and must be:
(1) clearly visible from outside the building;
(2) eight inches wide by twelve inches tall in size;
(3) contain the words ‘NO CONCEALABLE OR OPEN CARRYING OF WEAPONS ALLOWED’ in black one-inch tall uppercase type at the bottom of the sign and centered between the lateral edges of the sign;
(4) contain a black silhouette of a handgun inside a circle seven inches in diameter with a diagonal line that runs from the lower left to the upper right at a forty-five degree angle from the horizontal;
(5) a diameter of a circle; and
(6) placed not less than forty inches and not more than sixty inches from the bottom of the building’s entrance door.
(C) If the premises where concealable weapons are prohibited does not have doors, then the signs contained in subsection (A) must be:
(1) thirty-six inches wide by forty-eight inches tall in size;
(2) contain the words ‘NO CONCEALABLE OR OPEN CARRYING OF WEAPONS ALLOWED’ in black three- inch tall uppercase type at the bottom of the sign and centered between the lateral edges of the sign;
(3) contain a black silhouette of a handgun inside a circle thirty-four inches in diameter with a diagonal line that is two inches wide and runs from the lower left to the upper right at a forty-five degree angle from the horizontal and must be a diameter of a circle whose circumference is two inches wide;
(4) placed not less than forty inches and not more than ninety-six inches above the ground;
(5) posted in sufficient quantities to be clearly visible from any point of entry onto the premises.” /
Renumber sections to conform.
Amend title to conform.
This section is just like it was before, with the addition of “or open carrying” to make it clear that concealment and open carry are included in the prohibition.
The Wording of the Bill
TO AMEND SECTION 23-31-210, CODE OF LAWS OF SOUTH CAROLINA, 1976, RELATING TO THE ISSUANCE OF CONCEALED WEAPON PERMITS, SO AS TO ENACT THE “OPEN CARRY WITH TRAINING ACT” BY REVISING THE DEFINITION OF THE TERM “CONCEALABLE WEAPON” TO ALLOW A PERMIT HOLDER TO CARRY A CONCEALABLE WEAPON OPENLY ON HIS PERSON; AND TO AMEND SECTION 16-23-20, RELATING TO THE CARRYING OF A HANDGUN, SO AS TO PROVIDE A PERSON WHO POSSESSES A CONCEALED WEAPON PERMIT MAY CARRY IT OPENLY ON OR ABOUT HIS PERSON IN A VEHICLE.
The difference between concealed carry and open carry is whether it is okay for someone to see that you have a gun. Currently in South Carolina you must hide your weapon in order to comply with the law.
An accidental exposure of your gun, such as reaching over your head and allowing your shirt to rise so that the butt of your gun peeks out of your waistband, is prosecutable. You are brandishing your gun when you allow someone to see it.
With open carry, you can wear your gun on your hip or have it visible in your car without violating the law. This does not mean you can point it at someone or make verbal threats. That would still constitute brandishment.
Be it enacted by the General Assembly of the State of South Carolina:
SECTION 1. This act may be cited as the “Open Carry With Training Act”.
SECTION 2. Section 23-31-210(5) of the 1976 Code is amended to read:
“(5) ‘Concealable weapon’ means a firearm having a length of less than twelve inches measured along its greatest dimension that must may be carried openly on one’s person or in a manner that is hidden from public view in normal wear of clothing except when needed for self-defense, defense of others, and the protection of real or personal property.”
SECTION 3. Section 16-23-20(9) of the 1976 Code is amended to read:
“(9) a person in a vehicle if the handgun is:
(a) secured in a closed glove compartment, closed console, closed trunk, or in a closed container secured by an integral fastener and transported in the luggage compartment of the vehicle; however, this item is not violated if the glove compartment, console, or trunk is opened in the presence of a law enforcement officer for the sole purpose of retrieving a driver’s license, registration, or proof of insurance. If the person has been issued a concealed weapon permit pursuant to Article 4, Chapter 31, Title 23, then the person also may secure his weapon under a seat in a vehicle, or in any open or closed storage compartment within the vehicle’s passenger compartment; or
(b) carried openly or concealed on or about his person, and he has a valid concealed weapons permit pursuant to the provisions of Article 4, Chapter 31, Title 23;”
SECTION 4. This act takes effect sixty days after approval by the Governor.
This measure is addressing concealable weapons, otherwise known as handguns. The person carrying a gun is not excused from having a permit to carry the gun. The difference is that concealment becomes optional.
You Still Need a Permit
This bill does not allow open carry as a matter of course. You still need to go through training before you are issued a permit.
Supporters of this provision will state that training keeps citizens safe. Proper instruction in the law and in gun safety prevents tragedy.
Detractors will state that any restriction at all is a violation of our rights as set forth in the Bill of Rights.
You may correctly point out that we have to prove our ability to use a car safely before we are allowed to drive. When I was a teenager, the Driver’s Ed instructor made it clear to us that driving is a privilege, not a right.
Gun laws have reduced the right to defend yourself to the level of a privilege by deciding for us who gets to carry and in what circumstances.
Philosophical considerations aside, you should get training before you carry a gun. Please don’t carry a gun until you thoroughly understand how it works.
There are Still Places Where You Cannot Carry
H. 3094 is not an entirely new law. It only adds open carry to the current law. All behaviors prohibited by the current law are still prohibited by this bill, except allowing others to see that you have a gun.
You still can’t go into a school or government building with a gun, and you still need permission from the governing body of your church to carry in church. See my article about where you can carry in South Carolina.
Why Would You Want to Carry a Weapon Openly?
Most states now have open carry. According to concealedcarry.com, The only states that have no open carry provision in public places are South Carolina, New York, North Dakota, and Illinois. Open carry is also prohibited in Washington, D.C.
Even in California there are “unincorporated areas where the county has not passed laws prohibiting open carry.” In Florida you can only open carry when engaging in or returning from fishing, camping, or lawful hunting.
I have spent time in several open carry states, including North Carolina, Georgia, and my home state of Oklahoma. Other than law enforcement, I haven’t seen anyone walking around with a gun on each hip.
So why have it available if no one is doing it?
On a practical level, allowing open carry means that accidentally disclosing your weapon is no longer a crime. Right now the potential exists for an otherwise law abiding citizen to go to jail for bending over in the wrong outfit in view of the wrong person.
The heart of the matter, however, has to do with the fundamentals of human rights. When the founders of our nation wrote the Constitution, they had in mind a nation of sovereign states united to stand against encroachment from older, larger nations.
They had wrested their own independence from Britain, the premier power of their time, and did not intend to be defenseless against their own government or anyone else’s.
To keep the government from becoming too powerful, the crafters of the United States Constitution allowed the Bill of Rights to be added. The Second Amendment states clearly what gun laws were intended:
A well regulated Militia, being necessary to the security of a free State, the right of the people to keep and bear Arms shall not be infringed.
I looked up “infringed” at Merriam-Webster and got this definition: to encroach upon in a way that violates law or the rights of another
The founders did not want to violate or encroach upon our right to bear arms.
Does This Bill Go Far Enough?
You might like the idea of open carry but feel that the permit requirement should be dropped. To use a rather unsavory metaphor, let’s not throw out the baby with the bathwater.
Change happens incrementally. Passing the Open Carry Bill is one step closer to Constitutional Carry.
Better yet, pass both bills. Don’t advocate either the Open Carry Bill or the Constitutional Carry Bill. Think of them as a boxed set and let’s get both signed into law.
How to Get Involved With Your Government and Its Laws
Every two years, local precincts reorganize. This is your chance to get in at the grass roots and make a difference at the local level.
Republican Party Precinct Reorganization for Spartanburg County, SC, happens 3/20/21 at High Point Academy from 1-4 p.m. Find out where your local group meets and help them choose their direction for the next two years.
Use the link I provided above to contact your legislators in South Carolina, or look up your state house if you live elsewhere.
Talk with your friends and family about political matters even if it makes you uncomfortable. You might be surprised to find that they agree with you. They just need permission to speak freely.
Keep reading my blog. For general information about the safe use of your Second Amendment right, watch our YouTube Channel.
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