COLUMBIA, S.C. (WIS) - State lawmakers gave the ‘Unorganized Militia’ bill its first approval on Tuesday.
The Family and Veterans’ Services Subcommittee voted 2-1 to move S. 614 on to the full committee, which will meet on Wednesday.
The bill is designed to ensure that South Carolina’s Unorganized Militia is armed and free from federal authority.
South Carolina law states that the state’s Unorganized Militia is comprised of able-bodied U.S. citizen residents over the age of 17, who are not members of the National Guard.
If passed, the bill would ensure that:
“...an unorganized militia member, at his own expense, shall have the right to possess and keep all arms that could be legally acquired or possessed by a South Carolina citizen as of December 31, 2020. This includes, but is not limited to, shouldered rifles and shotguns, handguns, clips, magazines, all components, and all ammunition fitted for such weapons;”
It also states:
“...the unorganized militia may not fall under any law or regulation or the jurisdiction of any person or entity outside of South Carolina;”
Sponsor Sen. Tom Corbin (R-Greenville) has expressed concern about the Biden Administration attempting to disarm South Carolinians.
Speaking with subcommittee members Tuesday, he said the bill would protect legally owned guns against federal confiscation under the premise the federal government cannot disarm the state militia.
“Currently, there’s no [unorganized militia] weaponry defined in our state code of law. Do we want to go fight off an army with pitchforks and broomsticks? That’s obviously madness. The most logical thing to me would be to define that armament as what we legally have now,” he said.
The bill would not expand access to new classes of weapons in the state but would allow citizens to opt-out of the militia.
The lone Democrat on the subcommittee, Sen. Kevin Johnson (D-Clarendon), questioned the constitutionality and purpose of the bill.
“I don’t have any concern about the federal government coming out, confiscating people’s weapons. I been hearing that around here for the last several years and I don’t know where it’s coming from. I haven’t seen anything, or any indication, that that’s the case,” he said.
Corbin said he would be adding an amendment to the bill to further address federal supremacy.
The U.S. House passed two measures earlier in March that would strengthen gun background checks and reviews for gun purchases. Their future in the U.S. Senate is uncertain.
University of South Carolina Political Science Department Chair Kirk Randazzo said the ‘jurisdiction’ clause is “on its face completely unconstitutional.”
He also cited U.S. Codes, which puts the “Unorganized Militia” under federal control.
“Unorganized and established in the state could ultimately be called up by the federal government if they needed additional support. Ultimately every military sort of body is under the authority of the federal government, everyone.”
The full committee hearing on the bill is 9 a.m. on Wednesday, March 24 in room 308 of the Gressette Building.