By JAMIE SELF
A crowd in Rock Hill Monday urged a state Senate panel to move quickly to pass a bill that would allow South Carolinians to carry handguns, concealed or not, without a permit.
More than 150 people packed a standing-room-only auditorium at York Technical College in Rock Hill for the hearing on the S.C. Constitutional Carry Act of 2013.
The bill would repeal a state law that requires residents to obtain a permit to carry a concealed firearm. The 2nd Amendment to the U.S. Constitution guarantees the right to carry a firearm, the proposal’s sponsors say.
For several supporters, the decision facing lawmakers comes down to whether law-abiding citizens should have the right to protect themselves without jumping through unnecessary hoops.
“The debate is not only about freedom,” said Chris Crooke of Indian Land. “It’s about trust.
“You trust me to vote for you and entrust my freedoms and my liberties to you, yet I’ve got to have a concealed weapons permit?” Crooke asked rhetorically to applause.
Some speakers warned of government overreach.
“The reason you don’t trust us is because we may overthrow you,” said Jeff Mattox, a Tea Party-leaning government watchdog who frequents the State House.
“I don’t carry a concealed weapons permit because I refuse to register,” Mattox said. “It’s none of your damn business. Leave us alone. We want to be free. We don’t need your help!”
Though fewer in number, opponents urged the Senate panel – including the bill’s sponsors, state Sens. Lee Bright and Shane Martin, both Spartanburg Republicans – to abandon the proposal.
Suzanne Rallis, a member of Moms Demand Action gun-control group, urged the panel to reject the proposal, calling it irresponsible for not requiring a permit process.
“I respect the 2nd Amendment,” Rallis said. “I don’t want anyone to lose their guns. That’s not what we’re about here. But there are limits imposed on most amendments.”
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