SC attorney general, Aiken legislators back bills for loosened concealed weapon rules (state legislation – Google News)

SC attorney general, Aiken legislators back bills for loosened concealed weapon rules

The state’s attorney general has reiterated his support of legislation that would allow concealed weapon permit holders to carry their weapons in states they don’t live in, and local legislators are backing him up.

South Carolina Attorney General Alan Wilson is one of more than 20 attorneys general – including Chris Carr of Georgia, Steve Marshall of Alabama and Pamela Jo Bondi of Florida – who cosigned a Dec. 1 letter that explained the purpose behind two bills: the Constitutional Concealed Carry Reciprocity Act of 2017, a Senate bill, and the Concealed Carry Reciprocity Act of 2017, the House of Representatives counterpart.

The letter was sent to Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell, Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer, Speaker of the House Paul Ryan and House Democratic Leader Nancy Pelosi.

The Concealed Carry Reciprocity Act of 2017 passed the U.S. House on Dec. 6 by a vote of 231-189. Chris Cox, the executive director of the National Rifle Association Institute for Legislative Action, described the approval as a “great day for freedom.”

U.S. Sen. Lindsey Graham, R-S.C., is a cosponsor of the Senate legislation. Six of seven South Carolina congressmen have cosponsored their respective version.

The letter Wilson signed asserts that not letting law-abiding permit holders carry their weapons across state lines is a violation of the Second Amendment.

“States should not be able to deny citizens of other states the basic constitutional right to self-defense,” the letter reads.

According to the letter, 10 states outright refuse to let non-resident permit holders carry their weapons.

South Carolina offers concealed carry reciprocity – authorizing out-of-state permit use – to residents of 23 states, including North Carolina, Georgia, Tennessee, Florida, Kentucky and Louisiana, according to the South Carolina Law Enforcement Division.

“South Carolina has chosen to respect the rights of residents and non-residents to carry arms for self-defense,” Wilson said in a prepared statement.

The legislation does not interfere with a government or private body banning concealed weapons on their property. Both bills maintain federal weapons guidelines regarding felonies and mental health issues.

The letter states that letting non-resident permit holders carry their weapons actually increases public safety. The letter also states that permit holders are “among the most law-abiding members of society.”

There are 311,172 active concealed weapon permits in South Carolina as of September, according to SLED. More than 73,000 permits were issued this year, and 1,371 permits were either denied or revoked.

In 2016, 24,896 violent crimes were committed in South Carolina, according to the latest FBI crime statistics. That same year, 549 violent crimes – murder, non-negligent manslaughter, rape, robbery and aggravated assault, according to FBI definitions – were reported in Aiken County.

State Rep. Bill Taylor, R-Aiken, said he stands with Wilson and supports the legislation.

Taylor, a concealed weapon permit holder himself, said the national bills are “simple” and would achieve basically the same thing as its stateside, in-flux counterpart: the National Concealed Weapons Permit Reciprocity Act.

The S.C. House of Representatives approved that bill 85-23.

“We’re trying on the state level,” Taylor said. “It’s for the good guys and gals.”

Taylor said the two national bills, once resolved, would serve as a “common sense solution for the very confusing hodgepodge between the various states.” Different states have different concealed weapons requirements, thresholds and restrictions. Those differences, Taylor said, can put otherwise law-abiding travelers in weapons violation hot water.

“All this does is affirm law-abiding citizens who are qualified to carry it in one state can carry it in other states,” Taylor said.

He compared permit reciprocity with how out-of-state driver’s licenses are honored.

“They’re driving a 3,000-, 5,000-, 7,000-pound vehicle. That’s sometimes more deadly than a gun,” Taylor said.

The state representative also agreed that an armed and trained population is a safer one.

“It’s absolutely safer,” Taylor said. “The bad guys don’t know who’s carrying … You don’t know when you go in to rob a restaurant that the old guy will get up and pop you one.”

State Rep. Bart Blackwell, R-Aiken, echoed Taylor’s points in a later interview. Blackwell voted in favor of South Carolina’s reciprocity act.

“Reciprocity for concealed carry permits, I do favor that,” Blackwell said. “I think it makes perfectly good sense that we have reciprocity.”

Blackwell said an “armed and trained population” is a “good population,” adding that it is, in fact, an issue of safety.

“Folks that have permits, that have undergone training, that’s beneficial,” he said.

State Legislation

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December 9, 2017 at 04:14PM