On Thursday, June 5, the second regular session of the 117th South Carolina General Assembly came to an end. This session we were able to pass some pro-gun legislation while making great strides towards establishing a constitutional amendment to guarantee the right to hunt and fish in the Palmetto State.
H 3202 was intended to recognize the individual right right to hunt and fish for all South Carolinians and at one time was a very promising piece of legislation. NRA has been promoting a Right to Hunt and Fish Amendment in South Carolina since 2005, when NRA-drafted model language was first introduced. It contained specific protections NRA considers paramount to preserving our hunting heritage for future generations. Those key protections include establishing: hunting as a recognized right of the people; that the only source for laws and regulations regarding hunting would be the South Carolina General Assembly; that the hunting of species "traditionally pursued" shall be protected; and that the use of "traditional methods" for hunting game shall be protected. Since our initial efforts in 2005, we have also added the provision that public hunting shall be a preferred means for managing healthy wildlife populations. Without each of these provisions, a Right to Hunt and Fish Amendment would not comprehensively protect hunting for future generations. While we were not able to ensure that NRA-supported language was adopted this session, we were successful in ensuring language that did not offer comprehensive protections for hunters did not pass. NRA will continue to work with legislators and Department of Natural Resource officials to safeguard hunting for future generations.
While we are extremely disappointed that we did not come to agreement on the desired language for the Right to Hunt and Fish amendment, there were several other pro-gun bills passed this session.
H 3212, the Right-to-Carry reciprocity reform bill, was revived this week, after it seemed time had run out. Fortunately, pro-gun leadership in the South Carolina House and Senate were able to pass the legislation in time, in spite of the extremely crowded legislative schedule. H 3212 was originally introduced as a straight recognition bill that would have required South Carolina to recognize all valid Right-to-Carry permits. Unfortunately, we were not able to pass this language, but what did pass was a conditional reciprocity standard that replaced the vague, arbitrary standards in the current law with specific requirements. This reciprocity reform, as passed, will still expand the number of states that recognize a South Carolina permit, and vice versa. H 3212 now awaits action by Governor Mark Sanford (R), so please take a moment to call his office, thank him for his past support of the Second Amendment, and urge him to sign H 3212. The Governor can be reached by phone at (803) 734-2100.
Finally, there were a number of other pro-gun reforms that were passed this year, and already signed into law. H 4364, introduced by State Representative Mike Pitts (R-14), lowered the state age restriction on acquiring a handgun from 21 to 18. Federal law still requires an individual to reach the age of 21 before purchasing a handgun from a Federal Firearms License (FFL) holder, and this law does not change that standard. Because federal law does not prohibit possession of handguns by 18-year-olds, H 4364 brings South Carolina in line with the majority of states, which do not prohibit law-abiding 18-year-olds from possessing or acquiring handguns.
Governor Sanford has also signed H 3528, also introduced by Representative Pitts, which protects the privacy of law-abiding Concealable Weapons Permit (CWP) holders.