Residents packed the City Council chambers Monday night where a Senate subcommittee listened to opinions on the Constitutional Carry Act of 2013.
The bill, as proposed, would allow anyone to carry a gun – concealed or not – as long as there is no intent to commit a crime. A private employer or owner would be allowed to prevent employees from carrying guns on their property with proper signage. It would also be unlawful to carry a gun into someone else’s home without permission.
Ronald Hughes of Galivants Ferry urged the subcommittee to get the bill approved.
“At the core of this bill is the rights of the citizens,” he said. “The legislators of S.C. violated that right … in essence telling us that right is only valid if we ask permission of the state via a permitting process.”
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He said nobody should have to ask permission to protect their family.
Anthony Prince agreed.
“As we all know this bill is to stop the federal government from taking our right to bear arms,” he said.
Passing the law, Prince said, would show the federal government that South Carolina “believes in the Bill of Rights” and will stand against efforts to curtail those rights.
Richard Hopkins was in the minority Monday night when he spoke out against the bill. He said making it easier for people to carry guns would only increase violence.
Senator Shane Martin asked Hopkins if he had numbers or evidence to prove that, because the research he has seen contradicts Hopkins’ belief.
Gene Geraldo said he previously was not a supporter of open carry because of an accident he witnessed while in the military.
“I have since changed my mind because I’ve looked at the situation,” he said. “We need constitutional carry. We need it badly.”
Geraldo said that’s because he once had a gun put to his head during a robbery.
He wasn’t carrying a gun that night, but said if he had he may have been able to prevent the crime.
Chuck Collins, another supporter of the bill, had a suggestion for the subcommittee. He said the bill should have stipulations on who is allowed to carry a gun. He said only people age 18 and older who have not been convicted of a felony and some misdemeanor crimes to include domestic violence. He also said anyone deemed mentally incompetent should not be allowed to carry a gun.
He said women who bravely go to court to get reprieve from an abusive spouse or boyfriend should be protected better by the court by at least taking away any guns the offender may have.
The Myrtle Beach stop was the last of four public hearings across the state on the bill.