COLUMBIA, S.C. (AP) – A small group of South Carolina senators approved a bill on Thursday that would allow licensed people to openly carry pistols and not hide them under a jacket.
The 3-2 vote along party lines kept alive hopes in 2021 that the Senate could pass the House-approved bill to allow so-called open carry of guns by people who already have a state-issued concealed weapons permit.
To have a chance to become a law this year, the bill would still have to make it through the full Senate Judiciary Committee and a Senate floor debate with just six days left in the session.
The proposal would allow anyone who passes the background check and a roughly eight-hour course to get a South Carolina concealed weapons permit to carry their pistol in the open. The House also passed a bill that would allow anyone who can legally carry a gun to do that in the open with no training at all, but that proposal has not been heard in the Senate.
South Carolina is one of only five states without some type of open carry law, joining atypical partners such as California, Florida, Illinois and New York.
Groups that support gun rights have pushed hard for years for the bills, saying neighboring Georgia and North Carolina allow open carry.
Opponents include a number of current law enforcement leaders, including State Law Enforcement Division Chief Mark Keel, and the police chiefs and sheriffs in some of the state’s largest population centers.
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