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South Carolina: Update on Several Important Pro-Gun Bills

Friday, March 28, 2008

On Wednesday, March 26, the South Carolina House of Representatives voted against the Senate amendments to H 3212.  This legislation was introduced in the House last year, and sought to establish a straight recognition standard for Right-to-Carry (RTC) permits in South Carolina.  NRA has been working with members of the House and Senate on this reform for several years; it was thanks to our efforts that the straight recognition language was originally introduced in the House last year and in the previous session. While the House has been very receptive to this effort, as have many in the Senate, there has been some strong opposition in the Senate to any reform.  In 2005, after the Senate amended the House bill, NRA worked to kill a Senate version in Conference Committee because it was actually worse than the current conditional reciprocity standard.

This year, thanks to the efforts of State Senators Jim Ritchie (R-13) and Jake Knotts (R-23), H 3212 was amended with NRA-supported language that would expand reciprocity with other states that issue RTC permits.  This amended language also helped to weaken opposition to H 3212, and better ensure its passage by the Senate.  While the amended language was still a conditional reciprocity standard, it set specific standards that most RTC states could meet, rather than the arbitrary standards currently in place.

Unfortunately, the Senate further amended H 3212 in a way that would have diminished the number of potentially reciprocal states.  It required the fingerprinting of RTC permittees by other states as one standard for reciprocity.  This would have excluded at least four states that do not subject their permittees to this process from ever being considered for reciprocity.  Fortunately, NRA was again able to work with Senators Ritchie and Knotts to amend the bill once more, removing the fingerprinting standard and making the originally amended good bill even better.

While there was an effort to defeat H 3212 if the NRA-backed amendment was not removed, this effort failed.  Some mistakenly feel that, simply because the bill does not go as far as the original House language, it should be defeated, in spite of the fact that it still vastly improves South Carolina's reciprocity standard.  Furthermore, returning the original House language would have virtually assured H 3212 would have failed in the Senate. This "all-or-nothing" attitude does little to advance the rights of permit holders in South Carolina or other potential reciprocal states.

Unfortunately, many members of the House were confused over whether to support the amended Senate language, or work to restore its original recognition standard.  NRA, of course, supports the straight recognition standard, but also supports the Senate language as a distinct improvement over the current law.  Ultimately, the House voted against the Senate amendment.  This means the bill will now go to a Conference Committee made up of House and Senate members.  NRA will work with the conferees, once they are determined, to ensure the best possible language is enacted.  As soon as the conferees are determined, we will be sure to let you know whom enact the best possible reform to South Carolina's CWP reciprocity provisions.

In other legislative news, the Senate Judiciary Committee reported out
H 3202, which seeks to allow South Carolina voters to determine if the South Carolina Constitution should be amended to recognize the Right to Hunt and Fish.  Unfortunately, the Judiciary Committee accepted an amendment that dramatically weakens the proposal.  It is imperative that you call your State Senator and urge him to work with NRA to pass language that will effectively protect our Hunting Heritage against attacks from animal "rights" extremists.

Finally, thanks to NRA efforts, the House amended H 3528, which seeks to protect the privacy of law-abiding Concealable Weapons Permit (CWP) holders.  When the Senate amended H 3528, it mistakenly included language that mandated SLED publish the personal information of individuals who had simply moved to another state, turned in their CWP because they no longer wanted it, or had their permit suspended pending an investigation as to whether the permit should be revoked.  Fortunately, NRA caught the error, and was able to get the House to amend the bill to ensure the only information subject to publication was on individuals who have had their CWP actually revoked due to an offense that would prohibit them from possessing firearms.  The Senate voted to concur with the House amendment on Thursday, and the bill is now headed to Governor Sanford (R).

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Established in 1975, the Institute for Legislative Action (ILA) is the "lobbying" arm of the National Rifle Association of America. ILA is responsible for preserving the right of all law-abiding individuals in the legislative, political, and legal arenas, to purchase, possess and use firearms for legitimate purposes as guaranteed by the Second Amendment to the U.S. Constitution.