Politics & Government

McMaster endorses bill to allow carrying firearms without permit

South Carolina Lt. Gov. Henry McMaster speaks after he is sworn-in as governor.
South Carolina Lt. Gov. Henry McMaster speaks after he is sworn-in as governor. tdominick@thestate.com

S.C. Gov. Henry McMaster Friday endorsed a bill that would allow South Carolinians to carry a concealed firearm without a permit.

“Governor McMaster appreciates the House’s hard work on this bill, believes it is constitutional and will sign it if it reaches his desk,” said McMaster spokesman Brian Symmes.

Signing the pro-gun bill would appeal to gun advocates who vote in the 2018 Republican primary for the governor, when McMaster will be seeking a four-year term.

The proposal, sponsored by state Rep. Mike Pitts, R-Laurens, calls for what often is referred to as “constitutional carry.” The bill would allow those who legally can own a firearm to carry it concealed without a government-issued permit.

It also allows for open carry, which means weapons holders could carry their firearms on their person for everyone to see. The law still would bar carrying a firearm to prohibited locations and while committing a crime.

The S.C. House passed the plan last week, despite objections from some representatives that that House Republicans pushed the proposal through without debate or public input.

With four weeks left in the regular legislative session, the bill still has to make its way through the S.C. Senate before it can go to McMaster’s desk.

However, Democrats in the Senate — where individual members have more power — still could block the bill.

Cassie Cope: 803-771-8657, @cassielcope

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