As first reported by the Post and Courier, “more than 90 faith leaders from around South Carolina are planning to send a letter to state lawmakers March 16 in opposition to” dangerous permitless carry and open carry bills being considered by the South Carolina legislature. The letter comes after the South Carolina legislature has considered and advanced HB 3094, an open carry bill, and is now considering HB 3096, an even more extreme bill which would allow people to carry firearms in public without a background check or any safety training. From the report [emphasis added]:
“Pastors and ministers at churches across the state, from Disciples United Methodist Church in Greenville to Charity Mission Baptist Church in North Charleston to First Presbyterian Church of Myrtle Beach, wrote in the letter that they “have been at the forefront of the fight against gun violence in South Carolina.”
“As faith leaders in our state, we know all too well the devastating consequences of gun violence, as we approach six years since a white supremacist murdered nine Black parishioners at Mother Emanuel AME church in Charleston,” the letter says.
“…The [open carry] bill already faces opposition from another typically influential group in the Statehouse: law enforcement.“
“Charleston Police Chief Luther Reynolds testified against the bill in subcommittee, and State Law Enforcement Division Chief Mark Keel also expressed concerns, saying he believes it could exacerbate gun violence.“
“The other bill, which would let anyone carry guns openly regardless of whether they have a permit, received its first subcommittee hearing last week…”
“That proposal drew particular condemnation from Rev. Henry Gregory, who said it’s important for the clergy to speak out because their congregations look to them for consolation in the face of gun violence.
“Certainly, it makes our job even tougher when the Legislature seems to give gun rights out almost recreationally and without responsibility,” said Gregory, the pastor of New Home AME Zion Church in York.”
Read the full report here. Today, the House General Laws Subcommittee is scheduled to hear HB 3096, extreme legislation which would allow people to carry a loaded firearm – openly or concealed – in public without a background check or any safety training. Permitless carry legislation also allows extremists and white supremacists to evade background check requirements and safeguards to responsible gun ownership.
A 2018 poll found that 76 percent of South Carolina voters oppose making it legal to carry a loaded handgun in public without a permit or safety training. Permitless carry legislation like HB 3096 is even more extreme than HB 3094, which would allow for the open carry of handguns in public. The editorial boards of the Charleston Post and Courier, Charleston City Paper, and the Myrtle Beach Sun News have all called on the legislature to reject open carry. In the General Laws subcommittee, Charleston Police Chief Luther Reynolds joined other law enforcement representatives, doctors, and gun owners in testifying against this dangerous bill, and State Law Enforcement Division Chief Mark Keel also opposes the bill.