HORRY COUNTY, SC (WMBF) - Should gun owners be allowed to open carry freely, and without a permit?
A proposed bill making the rounds at the State House could allow for just that. The piece of legislation recently passed in a House sub-committee with little trouble.
Stacie Engel is a concealed weapon carrier, but doesn't actually own a gun. The grandmother said she only took the course to learn about gun safety, and would never want anyone near her loved ones with a weapon who wasn't trained on how to use it.
"You can't tell if they have a concealed license or permit or not, and you don't know if they have any education about guns," Engel said. "So I would leave right away if I saw someone with a gun at a playground or anywhere for that matter."
Other states such as North Carolina have similar laws like the one currently making its way through the House. Robert Battista, an avid gun enthusiast and shop owner, said he, for one, feels there is nothing wrong with the way the law is written now.
"A lot of people feel that they have the right to carry and they shouldn't have to get a permit, and I don't necessarily agree with that," he said. "I don't think there's a problem with our current permit situation right now. I think we would lose a lot of our tourism dollars if people were walking around with exposed guns."
Open carrying without a permit is something that law enforcement officials have often opposed.
"When law enforcement approaches you, you give him a concealed weapons permit, he knows that you're not a criminal carrying a gun," Battista said. "It separates us from someone just carrying a gun illegally. It allows him to know, yes you are a law abiding citizen, yes you can pass a background check, and you are carrying a gun legally."
Battista added he's not sure why lawmakers want to change the process, and takes pride informing his customers about gun safety.
"We educate people before we just allow them to go and carry a gun with the laws, and I kind of applaud the state for doing so," he said. "You know we don't just hand someone a gun and hope it works out for them."
If the bill passes, the state will still allow gun owners to take the concealed weapons course and get a permit. That will allow them to carry in other states, although it wouldn't be mandatory in South Carolina.