New gun bill proposed has South Carolinians talking

HORRY COUNTY, SC (WMBF) – A new proposed bill could change the way guns are dealt within the state of South Carolina, if Republican Senator Lee Bright gets his way.

In the state of South Carolina, gun owners are under a concealed weapons permit, which means they can have their gun on their person, but not in plain view. Senate Bill 115 is sponsored by Senator Bright, and if passed, it will eliminate the necessity of a concealed weapons permit and move to an "open-carry" law across the state. Open-carry laws allow gun owners to have their gun out in full view.

Roberta McNally and her husband Barry are gun owners not opposed to the idea of South Carolina becoming an open carry state. "Basically I think it's people's right to carry a gun," states Roberta.  Barry agrees with his wife on this issue, "If they're (government) all gung-ho on the first amendment, you've got to be gung-ho on the second amendment."

Will Abbot is a long time gun shop owner and gun advocate in Murrells Inlet. Abbot runs Coastal Sports, an indoor shooting range and gun store, and he thinks if it was open carry in the state it could be more problematic than helpful, especially if residents cross state lines. Abbot explains, "Many South Carolinians have property in other places – and if you take away the concealed carry weapons permit by letting everyone carry openly in public on display you lose the reciprocity in other states."

Vermont, Alaska, Arizona, and Wyoming are all open carry states.

Abbot adds having a open carry takes away the tactical element of surprise if faced with an attacker, "If you carry in the open, not only does it tell the criminal who needs to be shot first when they walk in the place, but it's somewhat of bait to people who want to make a scene."

Leaders with the Horry County Sheriff's Office said they support keeping the concealed weapons permit due to the proper training gun owners have to receive, but if the state were to mandate a different law they would have to abide by it.

A subcommittee will be meeting to discuss this issue further next week.

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