Firearms buyer Joshua Asperila checks out various Glock hand guns on display during the Shooting Hunting and Outdoor Trade Show, Tuesday, Jan. 14, 2014, in Las Vegas.
Julie Jacobson/AP Photo

A new phase in open-carry laws

When it comes to loaded firearms in public, open-carry laws are not exactly a new phenomenon. But in South Carolina this week, Gov. Nikki Haley (R) endorsed a policy that’s striking in its scope.
S.C. Gov. Nikki Haley said Tuesday that she backs a proposal that would make it legal for most South Carolinians to carry guns – concealed or in the open – without a permit or the training that the state currently requires.
Haley made her comments after she signed into law a bill that allows gun owners with licenses to carry concealed weapons into businesses that serve alcohol – restaurants and bars – as long as they do not drink alcohol and the businesses did not bar guns.
At issue is a proposal called the “Constitutional Carry Act,” sponsored by a notable Republican state senator named Lee Bright. It’s not the usual open-carry proposal.
In South Carolina, residents can legally carry a loaded, concealed firearm. What the Haley-backed measure would do, however, is eliminate the existing safeguards – South Carolinians would no longer need a permit or training.
Asked if scrapping permitting and training requirements might threaten public safety, the governor told The State, “Criminals are dangerous, and I think that every resident should be allowed to protect themselves from criminals.”
Jamelle Bouie’s take is worth taking considering.
That’s right: If you were a resident of South Carolina and wanted to carry a weapon – concealed or otherwise – then under this law you could. No classes, no tests, no background checks, no questions. I have no problem with guns – I grew up in a gun-owning household, and I’ve used firearms myself – but this is insane.
In fairness, it’s worth noting that Vermont already has an open-carry law similar to the one Haley wants in South Carolina. But context matters – Vermont doesn’t have a history of deadly gun violence; as Jamelle noted, South Carolina does.
As for whether the “Constitutional Carry Act” is likely to become law in the state, the proposal faces legislative skeptics, but it’s worth keeping an eye on.