Bill to allow open carrying of guns approved by Senate panel

COLUMBIA, S.C. (AP) - A Senate panel has passed a bill that would allow people to carry guns in public in South Carolina without a concealed weapons permit.

Supporters of the open carry bill said Wednesday it still needs some more work to make sure there aren't any loopholes. They plan to tweak the bill when it goes before the Senate Judiciary Committee next month.

Currently, anyone who wants to carry a gun in public has to have a permit and keep it concealed. It takes at least eight hours of training to get permission to carry a concealed weapon.

The hearing on the bill was packed with gun supporters. Many of them said a concealed weapon permit is an extra unnecessary step when the constitution allows people to have guns.

To see the proposed bill, click here.

Owners could still ban guns from their private businesses, and gun owners would need permission to take a weapon into someone else's home.

Essentially, the South Carolina Constitutional Carry Act of 2013 would:

  • Change the offense of unlawfully carrying a handgun to carrying a handgun with intent to commit a crime;
  • Repeal the offence of carrying concealed;
  • Remove references to concealed weapons permits and allow a private employer or owner to allow/prohibit anyone from carrying a weapon in his business by providing notice with a sign;
  • Prohibit any person from entering a residence or dwelling of another with a weapon without permission;
  • Amend the section dealing with people who are allowed to carry a weapon anywhere in the state while on duty, to include law enforcement officers.