SC House rejects attempt to remove gun permit, instead sends governor open carry bill

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The day before lawmakers wrap up most of their regular work session for the year, the South Carolina House rejected another attempt to further expand gun rights by eliminating the state’s concealed weapons permit, instead voting to pass a bill allowing gun owners with concealed weapons permits to carry openly.

The state House voted 83-34 Wednesday mostly down party lines to send Gov. Henry McMaster the coined “open carry with training” legislation, agreeing to a handful of changes made by the Senate last week. Those changes include eliminating the state’s $50 permit fee, requiring clerks to send pertinent background records to the State Law Enforcement Division within five days and limiting the federal government’s intervention over the state law.

McMaster, up for a second term in 2022, says he will sign any pro-Second Amendment legislation should it reach his desk.

The legislation would take effect 90 days from the governor’s signature.

House Republicans overwhelmingly avoided eliminating the state’s concealed weapons permit pushed Wednesday by state Rep. Jonathon Hill, R-Anderson, who criticized the reporting requirement measure, saying it was “not a win for gun owners.” And they rejected an effort by state Rep. John King, D-York, to add a 5% tax to weapons sold in the state to give law enforcement more pay.

“It actually is a step back,” Hill said on the floor.

But another Anderson Republican, state Rep. Brian White, likened Hill’s request to a poison pill that would only kill the bill’s chances at becoming law. While the House passed a separate bill this year to eliminate the permit, the Republican-controlled Senate rejected an attempt to attach a similar measure to the open carry legislation last week.

“If I were elected emperor, this would be the law of the land. Unfortunately, regrettably, and maybe graciously and fortuitously for some, I am not,” said state Rep. Micah Caskey, R-Lexington, who co-sponsored the constitutional carry legislation the House passed.

“Don’t snatch defeat from the jaws of victory. Don’t gamble with something that you know will lose ... and then make a Facebook post,” Caskey added, a comment to Hill, known for posting videos to Facebook, speaking out against his Republican colleagues.

This is a developing story. It will be updated.