South Carolina: Mental Health Reform Bill Sent to Governor

Posted on May 3, 2013

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On Tuesday, the South Carolina Senate made some slight changes to House Bill 3560, legislation that would create a requirement that individuals who have been placed under certain types of mental health-related orders by a court have their commitment order reported to the National Instant Criminal Background Check System (NICS).  The state Senate then passed H 3560 the following day and the House concurred with its Senate amendments yesterday.  H 3560 is now awaiting action by Governor Nikki Haley (R).

Enactment of H 3560 is necessary to bring South Carolina into compliance with the standards set forth in the federal NICS Improvement Amendments Act (NIAA) of 2007.  Individuals affected by the reporting requirements of the bill are already prohibited from purchasing or possessing firearms under federal law, and H 3560 does not expand or create new categories of prohibited persons.  In addition to the reporting requirement, the NIAA established clear standards for states to use in crafting laws to give persons subject to these prohibitions a means of relief.  H 3560, under the guidelines established by the NIAA, would allow a court to grant relief from the federal prohibition upon a finding that the petitioner will not be likely to act in a manner dangerous to public safety, and that the granting of the relief would not be contrary to the public interest.  Please click here for an NIAA fact sheet.

The NRA has been working directly with legislators, state Attorney General Alan Wilson (R), and a number of groups and individuals who have been involved with crafting this legislation and ensuring its passage.  We anticipate Governor Haley will sign H 3560 into law, as she has a long history of supporting law-abiding gun owners.

Also on Tuesday, the state House passed unanimously House Bill 3822, introduced by state Representative Mike Pitts (R-14).  This legislation seeks to make several reforms to the current Concealed Weapons Permit (CWP) system.  Among other things, it would extend the duration of the CWP from four to five years, require notification of the permit's pending expiration and simplify the application process for a CWP.

H 3822 has been referred to the Senate Judiciary Committee, so please contact members of that committee and urge them to support H 3822.

Finally, S 308, the Restaurant Carry bill passed in the state Senate on April 23, has been referred to the House Judiciary Committee.  As previously reported, this legislation was amended in order to ensure its passage in the state Senate, and that the NRA objected to amending S 308.  This amendment allows Concealed Weapons Permit (CWP) holders to carry a firearm into a restaurant that serves alcohol for self-defense, but not between the hours of midnight and 5:00 a.m.  It also does not allow CWP holders to sit in the bar area of a restaurant, if it has one.  The NRA strongly opposes arbitrary restrictions on where lawful CWP holders can carry, and therefore does not support the language in this amendment.

Please contact members of the House Judiciary Committee and urge them to work with the NRA to fix S 308, and to hear this bill as soon as possible.

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