South Carolina governor signs 'constitutional carry' measure

Earlier this week, Louisiana became the 28th state with Constitutional Carry.
Handguns in open carry, Austin Texas.

(The Center Square) — South Carolina Gov. Henry McMaster has signed a Constitutional Carry measure, making the Palmetto State the 29th state in the nation with a law allowing residents to carry a concealed firearm without a government-issued license.

House Bill 3594, the South Carolina Constitutional Carry/Second Amendment Preservation Act, also bars anyone convicted of a "crime punishable by a maximum term of imprisonment of more than one year to possess a firearm or ammunition within" South Carolina. However, there are some exceptions, including anyone convicted of a misdemeanor carrying a sentence of up to five years or expunged convictions.

"This bill expands the Second Amendment rights of our law-abiding citizens and will keep violent criminals behind bars with increased penalties for illegal gun use and possession," McMaster, a Republican, said in a post to X, previously known as Twitter.

In a statement, the governor said the measure closes the "'revolving door' for career violent criminals" as the "new law will provide strict increased penalties for illegal gun use and possession by criminals."

"Now, law enforcement, prosecutors and judges can keep career violent criminals behind bars where they belong, where they can no longer hurt innocent South Carolinians," the governor added.

The move comes after state House and Senate lawmakers passed differing versions of the measure. After the Senate passed an amended version, the House rejected it and passed a clean one in line with the version it originally passed.

"Today is a tremendous victory for freedom in South Carolina," Drew McKissick, chairman of the South Carolina Republican Party, said in a statement. "Despite what the radical Left may want, 'shall not be infringed' will never be up for debate in the Palmetto State.

"Thanks to Governor McMaster and both Chambers in the South Carolina Legislature, our God-given right to bear arms is now free from government babysitting," McKissick added.

Earlier this week, Louisiana became the 28th state with Constitutional Carry.

"To deprive our fellow man or woman of the liberty of self-defense is not only unconstitutional but downright immoral," Tommy Dimsdale, executive director of Palmetto Gun Rights, said in a statement posted to X. "I'm elated that we're finally fixing that in South Carolina today."

While Republicans and pro-gun groups lauded the move, Democrats derided it.

"I'm deeply troubled that this is something we're doing," state Rep. Seth Rose, D-Columbia, said during this week's debate on the measure. "...I have friends and citizens from both political parties that come up to me; some of my best friends that are Republicans will come up to me and say, 'What are y'all doing? What are you thinking?'

"This is wrong for South Carolina," Rose added. "This is wrong for our state, and it is not going to make anyone safer."