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South Carolina: Critical Self-Defense Bill Detrimentally Weakened in Senate

Thursday, April 25, 2013

On Tuesday, the South Carolina Senate finally passed Senate Bill 308, the Restaurant Carry bill introduced by state Senator Sean Bennett (R-38), by a 33-5 vote.  Unfortunately, in order to break the stranglehold some anti-gun Senators had on the bill, it was necessary that it be amended to pass in the Senate.  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.  However, we are committed to fixing S 308 as it makes its way through the South Carolina House.

Some anti-gun Senators refused to end the debate over S 308, and worked to tie it up on the Senate floor by offering countless amendments.  Many of these amendments contained deeply flawed language and were solely designed to delay or derail passage of Restaurant Carry.  One amendment even went to the outrageous lengths of requiring that only firearms loaded with SILVER BULLETS would be allowed to be lawfully carried in a restaurant that serves alcohol.

When it became clear that some anti-gun Senators would not relent and the passage of S 308 was in jeopardy before the legislative deadline, state Senator Shane Massey (R-25) offered the amendment that broke the gridlock.  Please be clear that Senator Massey did not support the language he offered, but he did understand that it was necessary to ensure passage of S 308.

Similarly, the NRA does not support this arbitrary amendment, but time was running down on the May 1 deadline to pass S 308 in the Senate.  The vote on the Massey Amendment should not be considered an anti-gun vote, but a vote to move S 308 forward.  Senator Massey did not create the problem of this bill being delayed or potentially killed, but he did provide a solution.  The only reason that this amendment was necessary was because of the refusal by some anti-gun Senators to allow a simple up or down vote on S 308.

Again, the NRA will work with supporters in the South Carolina House of Representatives to ensure that S 308 is amended to once again allow CWP holders to carry a firearm into a restaurant for self-defense without any arbitrary limits or restrictions.  Please contact your state Representative and urge her or him to support the NRA's efforts to clean up S 308 and to pass it without the unnecessary restrictions imposed in the current version of the bill.

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