One year after Sandy Hook shooting, state of SC gun laws

Published: Dec. 13, 2013 at 9:45 PM EST|Updated: Dec. 23, 2013 at 9:45 PM EST
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COLUMBIA, SC (WIS) - In the weeks following the tragedy at Sandy Hook Elementary School in Connecticut, legislators all over the nation introduced new measures linked to guns and gun violence.

South Carolina lawmakers dealt with nearly 30 bills but enacted only one. Those bills were more or less evenly split between proposals to ease rules on gun ownership and those to impose new limits or increase penalties for gun crimes.

Slightly more than half aimed at expanding gun rights most of the remainder some form of restriction.

Only one got approved. House bill 3560 is a ban on gun ownership by people determined to be "mental defectives."

Because the South Carolina General Assembly meets for two year sessions many bills introduced earlier this year are still alive and in various stages of the legislative process.

Among the most controversial, Senate bill 115, sponsored by Spartanburg's Lee Bright. The so-called "constitutional carry" measure that would make concealed weapons permits optional and allow citizens to openly carry their weapons.

South Carolina is one of six states that completely ban open carry for the general public.

Also still pending are bills in the House and Senate that would allow gun owners to take their weapons into restaurants with some limits.

Bright also has Senate bill 85, a "Firearms Freedom Act" to exempt from federal regulation, guns and ammunition made in South Carolina.

The Palmetto State has a reputation for being gun-friendly, but that might be something of a misperception.

So says the South Carolina Policy Council.

"We are only one of three states, I believe, in the nation, that does not allow legitimately purchased weapons into any place that serves alcohol. So actually, our gun laws are far from  open in South Carolina," says Ashley Landess with the South Carolina Policy Council.         

South Carolina gets a poor score, an F, in fact, from the pro-gun control Law Center to Prevent Gun Violence. It ranked South Carolina 35th among states in having enacted gun violence prevention laws.

But in 2011, the Brady Campaign put South Carolina in the middle of the pack, 22nd on gun control issues.

"The pushback is coming from inside the State House and not just from liberal lawmakers but really from across the board rights and one of the reasons that we're seeing for that is to pursue federal grant money.  That seems to be one of the driving forces behind restricting gun rights in South Carolina," said Landess.

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