S Carolina Senate rejects open carry of guns without permits

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COLUMBIA,S.C. (AP) – South Carolina senators debating a bill that would allow people with concealed weapons permits to carry their guns on Wednesday rejected an attempt to get rid of the requirement for the permits.

Senators voted 25-21 against the so-called constitutional carry amendment after several hours of debate on Wednesday.

It would have allow anyone who can legally own a gun to carry it anywhere the weapons are legally allowed.

The Senate was on its second day of debate on a gun bill that Republicans rapidly brought to the Senate floor. The bill would allow anyone who passes the background check and a roughly eight-hour course to get a South Carolina concealed weapons permit to carry their pistol in the open.

Several Republican leaders in the Senate weren’t ready to go as far as open carry without a permit.

“I think training and background checks are important,” said Senate Majority Leader Shane Massey, a Republican from Edgefield.

Senators expected to debate well into Wednesday night. Once the day is finished, there are four more days left in the General Assembly’s session.

Gun rights groups have made open carry a priority for years and put extra pressure on senators after Republicans won an extra three seats in the 2020 elections.

Opponents of the open carry bill include a number of current law enforcement leaders, including State Law Enforcement Division Chief Mark Keel, and the police chiefs and sheriffs in some of the state’s largest population centers.

South Carolina is one of only five states without some type of open carry law, joining atypical partners such as California, Florida, Illinois and New York.

The House earlier this year separately passed bills allowing open carry both with and without permits.

Senate Minority Leader Brad Hutto questioned why Republicans were in such a rush to pass this bill and why they didn’t think the current law allowing concealed weapons was good enough.

“You want me to know you have a gun. Isn’t that what this is all about?” said Hutto, a Democrat from Orangeburg.

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Follow Jeffrey Collins on Twitter at https://twitter.com/JSCollinsAP.

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