Gov. Nikki Haley proponent of ‘Constitutional Carry’ legislation in S.C.

Katie LaPotin, Red Alert Politics, February 12, 2014

South Carolina Gov. Nikki Haley, who is well-known for her love of guns, is backing a new proposal that would allow people to carry a firearm in the Palmetto State without having a permit or training.

According to The Statethe first-term Republican is a proponent of State Senate Bill 115, the Constitutional Carry Act, which would eliminate the state’s current restrictions on permits and training for those wishing to carry a gun. The bill now sits in the state Senate Judiciary Committee, where it almost died during debate last week.

She announced her support for the act after signing into law Tuesday a bill that allows gun owners with licenses to carry concealed weapons into businesses that serve alcohol, provided they do not drink alcohol while carrying the weapon and the businesses do not already have a gun ban in place. The law makes South Carolina the 46th in the nation to allow individuals to bring guns into establishments serving alcohol.

“Criminals are dangerous, and I think that every resident should be allowed to protect themselves from criminals,” Haley told The State in reference to the proposed measure.

The chief sponsor of the Constitutional Carry Act, state Sen. Lee Bright (R-Spartanburg), told The State that the 2nd Amendment “gives Americans the right to carry firearms without any government restrictions.” The bill would eliminate the need for permits, as well as the requirement that individuals be trained before carrying firearms. It would also allow any state resident who is not forbidden by law from possessing a firearm, such as a violent felon, to carry a gun either concealed or out in the open in all the same places that gun owners with concealed weapons permits are now allowed to bring firearms.

Bright, who is mounting a primary challenge against incumbent Sen. Lindsey Graham this spring, told The Post and Courier that the state “should be more like Arizona,” where gun ownership isn’t controlled by the government.

“Martha Stewart has a felony. Should she not be able to protect herself?” Bright asked. “This is the right to self-defense. We sit up in this ivory tower and make decisions. … People make mistakes in their lives and you say, ‘I’m going to fundamentally take away your right to defend yourself?’ This debate is about ‘Does the government know better or do the people know better?’”

Despite Haley’s support, the bill is unlikely to pass this year as it faces significant opposition in the Senate, as among the bill’s chief opponents is Senate Judiciary Committee chairman Larry Martin (R-Pickens).

“Is it (carrying firearms) a right under our Constitution? Sure it is. But it’s also a huge responsibility that we as citizens should respect,” he told The State. 

According to National Review Online, six states – Alaska, Arizona, Arkansas, Montana, Vermont and Wyoming – already have “Constitutional Carry” laws on the books, and similar measures are awaiting a vote in several other states including Ohio and Oklahoma.

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