(The Center Square) — The South Carolina House has passed a constitutional carry law, allowing residents to carry a firearm without a permit.
H.3594, the South Carolina Constitutional Carry/Second Amendment Preservation Act of 2023, maintains the federal background check requirements to purchase a firearm and the concealed weapons permit process for reciprocity carry in other states. According to a news release, it does not change who can legally possess a firearm or where they can carry it.
The measure, which lawmakers passed by a 90-30 vote largely along party lines, also increases penalties for felons illegally possessing a firearm.
Law-abiding “citizens should not need a permission slip from the government to exercise their Second Amendment right,” state Rep. Bobby Cox, R-Greenville, said in a news release. “This bill restores their constitutional freedom to protect themselves and penalizes those criminals who illegally own firearms.”
According to the State Law Enforcement Division, the bill will not impact revenue. Act No. 66 in 2021 eliminated the $50 application fee for a concealed weapon permit.
According to the state Revenue and Fiscal Affairs Office, the measure could decrease state revenues if signed into law. However, the agency could not provide a specific dollar amount of the potential impact.
“While we have serious concerns about its impact, Democrats worked to make the bill better and ensure ALL South Carolinians are treated equally under the law,” House Democrats said on Twitter.
According to the National Rifle Association’s Institute for Legislative Action, if Republican Gov. Henry McMaster signs the measure, South Carolina would be the 26th state with constitutional carry. Last April, in neighboring Georgia, Gov. Brian Kemp, a Republican, signed Senate Bill 319, a constitutional carry measure allowing Georgians to carry guns without needing a state-issued license.