Tomorrow at 9:30 AM, the Senate Judiciary Subcommittee will hear HB 3094, a dangerous open carry bill which would allow for the open carry of handguns in public. Moms Demand Action and Students Demand Action volunteers will testify in subcommittee and are available for interviews.
Ahead of the committee hearing, here’s what key stakeholders across the state have had to say about the dangerous permitless carry (HB 3096) and open carry (HB 3094) bills moving through the legislature:
Charleston Police Chief Luther Reynolds: “Adding the open carrying of handguns increases the potential for loss of life and serious bodily injury. It also makes it more difficult for law enforcement when large numbers of individuals are openly carrying handguns.”
State Law Enforcement Division Mark Keel: “I’m concerned it’s going to create more possibly tragic interactions with law enforcement and the public and we’re not having that right now with our CWP statute. And I’m concerned that the open carry [bill] will create more of those type of situations.”
Richland County Sheriff Leon Lott: “You ask any cop, and they will tell you this is a bad idea.”
Columbia Police Chief Skip Holbrook: “You’re putting officers in tough situations. It’s difficult to determine friend from foe and what somebody’s intent is. We can’t read minds. If we could read minds, it would be different. But we can’t.”
South Carolina Police Chief’s Association President Kelvin Washington: “We have a number of concerns about it, primarily officers responding to calls of people with weapons. It poses a problem for us in determining if this person is legal to carry or not.”
More than 90 faith leaders across South Carolina: “We, the undersigned, write in opposition to legislation that would weaken our gun safety laws to allow the open carry of loaded handguns in public or the adoption of permitless carry, which would eliminate the requirement to have a permit to carry loaded handguns in public.”
Gary Clary, a former Republican member of the South Carolina House of Representatives: “Small local businesses have taken a major hit, gone into debt, and open carry may necessitate additional liability insurance, the training of staff for potentially volatile situations. The policy may generate anxiety or anger in patrons; some may choose not to frequent businesses that allow open carry; some may harass businesses that place signage prohibiting it.”
Charleston Post and Courier Editorial Board: “…The supporters who spoke in favor of it [H. 3094] were vastly outnumbered by the concealed weapons permit holders, doctors and police officials who warned that it would encourage aggression and assist in intimidation efforts and make it nearly impossible for police to tell the good guys from the bad guys. So much for legislators’ claims that they respect, support and want to do all they can to protect police; that lasts only as long as police don’t point out how things lawmakers want to do would endanger them.”
Charleston City Paper Editorial Board: “Open carry could make police interactions even more dangerous for Black people in South Carolina.”
Myrtle Beach Sun News Editorial Board: “The “constitutional carry” measure – no permit required – is a slap in the face to victims of gun violence and an affront to common sense about gun safety.”
Charleston Post and Courier Columnist Cindi Ross Scoppe: “I’m not ready to say we should all vote against otherwise responsible representatives who supported H.3096. But those of us who have an otherwise responsible Republican House member who supported this bill should reach out now and let him or her know how disappointed we are.”
Dr. Annie Andrews, a pediatrician with MUSC: “This body should be working to implement evidence-based solutions to reduce the incidence of these injuries and deaths. But unfortunately, the bill that is being considered today will not protect our children and is actually a threat to public safety.”
What to know about open carry in South Carolina:
- Open carry, which allows for carrying firearms visibly in public, is a dangerous policy exploited by white supremacists and extremists, like the violent insurrectionists who stormed the U.S. Capitol, to intimidate their opponents. In fact, research shows that extreme-right activists have been using guns as tools of violence in increasingly brazen ways.
- Research shows that open carry threatens public safety: visible guns have been found to make people more aggressive; therefore open carry could make it more likely that disagreements will turn into violent conflicts.
Currently, South Carolina prohibits the open carry of handguns, but this session, lawmakers are considering dangerous proposals like HB 3094 to allow it. More information about open carry laws is available here.