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Update on Several Important South Carolina Pro-Gun Bills!

Friday, March 21, 2008

This week, the South Carolina Senate worked on H 3212. Last week, the Senate amended the Right-to-Carry recognition bill passed by the House, changing it to a conditional reciprocity bill. As passed by the House, this legislation would have required South Carolina to recognize all valid Right-to-Carry permits held by residents of all other states that issue such permits. With last week's Senate amendment, the bill would have required South Carolina to recognize valid Right-to-Carry permits held by residents of other states, provided the permit issuing process of the other state requires the permittee to undergo a criminal background check, as well as pass a course that teaches firearm safety. While this version of the legislation did not go as far as the House version, it would have greatly increased the number of states whose permits South Carolina would recognize and the number of states that will recognize a South Carolina permit. This amendment was necessary in order to ensure the Senate passed this needed reform. Without this new language, this bill would not have passed out of the Senate. NRA supported the amended version of H 3212, and we appreciate the help of the Senators who worked directly with NRA to ensure we could pass the best possible language; especially State Senators Jim Ritchie (R-13) and Jake Knotts (R-23). 

On Tuesday, March 18, the Senate amended H 3212 over some questionable concerns raised regarding its new language. The new version would have required a potential reciprocal state to have as part of its issuing process a fingerprinting requirement for permittees. This language would have excluded several states from ever being included as potentially reciprocal states, as they do not require the fingerprinting of permit applicants. Fortunately, NRA was able to work with Senators Ritchie and Knotts to fix this error. On Thursday, March 20, the Senate adopted the NRA-proposed amendment to correct the problem, and even improve the language. The new language clarifies that the standard for reciprocity with other states, as it relates to checking the background of permittees, is that the permittee must simply "successfully pass a criminal background check...." The Senate then passed H 3212 on Third Reading. 

A small, but important, technical error was made in drafting the amendment, but NRA worked, again, with Senator Knotts to correct the problem. The next step will be for the House to vote to concur with the Senate's amended version. If the House concurs, the bill will be sent to Governor Mark Sanford (R). 

Please take a moment to call your State Senator and thank him for working with NRA to pass this necessary reform. Please also take a moment to especially thank Senators Ritchie and Knotts, even if they are not your Senators, for working to correct the problems with Tuesday's amendment. Finally, please call your State Representative and urge him to vote for the amended version of H 3212. The contact information for your appropriate State Senator and Representative can be found here.

NRA is continuing to work to improve H 3202.  This was legislation that proposed an Amendment to the South Carolina Constitution that would have recognized hunting and fishing as protected rights. The language that passed out of the House would have allowed South Carolina voters to vote on an amendment that would have clearly protected hunting and fishing for future generations. A Senate Judiciary Subcommittee, however, amended H 3202 on March 12, replacing effective language with language that has no teeth and will do virtually nothing to protect sportsmen against future attacks from anti-hunting radicals. The version of H 3202 that passed the subcommittee is not supported by NRA. NRA will work with Senators to amend H 3202 either back to the version originally passed by the House, or rewrite it entirely to adopt NRA Model Language that is being promoted nationwide. If we are successful with our Model Language, South Carolina could become the benchmark state for meaningful Right to Hunt and Fish language that we can use as an example for other states. Please contact your State Senator and urge him to work with NRA to amend H 3202 so that South Carolina can adopt a Right to Hunt and Fish Constitutional Amendment that will truly protect our hunting and fishing heritage for future generations. Contact information can be found here.

Finally,
H 3528 will be up for consideration in the House when it returns from its break on Tuesday, March 25. This legislation would restrict the release of personal information regarding the holder of a valid concealed weapons permit (CWP), allowing release only to law enforcement to aid in an official investigation, or to comply with a subpoena or court order. The Senate amended the legislation not only to require the new restriction on releasing personal information of permittees, but to also require that any existing lists already released by the South Carolina Law Enforcement Division (SLED) be destroyed. 

In addition, H 3528 was amended to require that SLED issue a statistical report on permits every year, but this report will be limited to contain information such as the number of permits issued, number of applications denied, number of renewals, number of permits suspended or revoked, etc. The only personal information that could be released would be on individuals whose permits have been suspended or revoked. NRA will be working with legislators to make some technical corrections to the bill to make it even better. 

Please contact your State Representative and urge him or her to support H 3528, and work with NRA on this important issue to make necessary technical corrections, and oppose any weakening amendments. You can find your representative by clicking here.

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