By Stan Welch
The recent passage of House Bill 3094 by the S.C. House of Representatives eventually led to the establishment of South Carolina as a Second Amendment Sanctuary state, as well as making open carry with training (OCWT) legal. But the efforts also revealed a significant rift, both between and within, the two parties.
The OCWT act allows anyone possessing a concealed weapons permit to carry that weapon openly beginning in mid-August. The law also eliminates the current fifty dollar fee to obtain the CWP, and allows churches who meet on school grounds to determine for themselves whether to allow CWP holders in the congregation to possess the firearm during church services. Prior, state laws on firearms on school property took precedence.
But more importantly in the opinion of House District 10 Rep. West Cox, who serves as the chairman of the Anderson County Legislative Delegation, the establishment of S.C. as a Second Amendment state will provide additional protection against what is seen as an aggressive agenda of gun control at the federal level. As a 2A sanctuary state, South Carolina would require the state attorney general to review any federal law, regulation, or executive order deemed to have the potential to limit or abridge the right to bear arms. Should the SCAG rule that the infringement of the 2A right was indeed the result of the proposed restriction, he would order that no taxpayer dollars would be used to carry out the federal action; additional language essentially ensures that no state resources would be employed in enforcing the proposed action.
Cox, in a directed correspondence to The Journal stated that South Carolina recognizes several existing and Constitutionally established limits on firearm possession, such as the restriction against felons or the mentally ill possessing firearms. But he added that “This legislation
(H 3094) makes clear that in South Carolina, we will write our own gun laws and will not be dictated to by the federal government. In passing this Act, the elected representatives of the people have made it clear that in South Carolina, we intend to expand and not limit the Second Amendment rights of responsible, law abiding gun owners.”
Nevertheless, a movement led by Anderson delegation member, Rep. Jonathon Hill, to amend the bill and establish Constitutional carry threatened to derail the entire intent of H. 3094. Rep. Anne Thayer told The Journal that the bill, which was passed on the penultimate day of the General Assembly’s legislative session, would absolutely have been delayed for a year, and possibly killed by the efforts to amend H.3094 to establish Constitutional Carry, or open carry by anyone legally allowed to possess a firearm, regardless of training.
“That would have left the people of S.C. vulnerable to the federal gun control agenda for at least another year, and perhaps indefinitely. The opposition to Constitutional carry is substantial. Luckily, cooler heads prevailed and the Act passed. I also support Constitutional carry, but the tactic, and the timing of it, could have been disastrous for our efforts to protect the rights of South Carolinians.”
Even Rep. Bill Taylor, of Aiken, who is spearheading the aggressive pushback agenda against the federal gun control offensive, found Hill’s tactics and timing inappropriate. Referring to Hill’s actions as legislative shenanigans he added that “ this significant advancement of gun rights was nearly derailed by Rep. Jonathon Hill.” He stated that the effort to amend would have sent the bill back to the Senate where its “death was certain. Rep. Hill is an ‘all or nothing’ guy.” He went so far as to characterize Hill’s actions as grandstanding, and citing the support of numerous House Democrats as evidence of the error of the tactic.
By Stan Welch