Pending Firearm Legislation 2017

Christmas is upon us and the New Year will soon follow. With it comes the 2017-2018 SC legislative session and the promise of new laws. Firearms, and the regulations controlling them, will be a prime target of law makers this year. Some of the proposed ideas will be beneficial to gun owners, but others will be the old gun control tripe we have come to expect.

We do not yet know all of the bills that will be proposed, but some bills have already been pre-filed. Here is a sampling of what is pending in the Senate.

Pre-Filed 2017-2018 Legislation in the SC Senate
S. 21 : Self Defense From Game Animals

Senator Campsen proposes codifying the common law doctrine of self-defense as it relates to killing a game animal. At first blush, this is positive. Who would argue that a rabid fox should not be shot because the season is closed?

Unfortunately, this simple bill goes further. For big game it requires immediately reporting the incident to DNR: Thereby creating the expectation that government controls everything citizens do and must be informed of even the most basic actions, such as protecting your life. This expansion of ‘Big Brother’ is unnecessary and not part of common law doctrine.

Further, the bill would categorically prohibit the use of deadly force against deer. While deer may seem less than lethal, a simple search of “deer kills man” will turn up multiple incidents of attacks. Some in the home of the victim. It may not happen often, but deer can be deadly. To categorically deny the right of self defense in such an instance values the life of a deer greater than that of a person.

S. 73 : Tax Free Weekend

Senator Verdin proposes extending the Firearm Tax Free Weekend, which is held the Friday and Saturday after Thanksgiving, to include security items unrelated to firearms. For firearms, this bill will have no affect as drafted.

S. 88 : Concealed Weapons

Senator Verdin proposes multiple unrelated changes to the regulations affecting the carrying of firearms.

The bill would add a seventeenth exception to the prohibition of carrying pistols. Under the new exception, anyone evacuating pursuant to a Governor’s mandatory evacuation order would be able to carry a handgun without a CWP. This is good a provision, but it raises the question as to why we have a prohibition that requires seventeen exceptions to function? Should we look at eliminating the prohibition instead?

The bill would also statutorily shift liability onto a business which prohibits the possession of concealed weapons on the premises, but only for harm incurred by a Concealed Weapons Permit holder. This provision does not respect private property rights. And the Senator does not create the same liability shift for public buildings. To be fair, if prohibiting concealed weapons creates a known danger, should we not hold the State responsible for banning firearms in all of her buildings?

Third, the bill would create two types of CWPs. The ‘higher’ or ‘expanded’ type of CWP would be able to carry firearms in ‘sensitive locations’ like schools. To qualify for the additional permit, one would have to undergo annual training that satisfies SC SLED. Considering how law abiding CWP holders are, and how unresponsive is SLED, this additional training requirement is hardly necessary. However, it is good to see that legislators are starting to realize that allowing firearms into buildings only make those locations statistically safer.

Finally, the bill creates a special sticker which the DMV will affix to the license plate of any vehicle owned by a CWP holder. While resembling the ‘Scarlett Letter’ in function, the effect of such a law would be to notify car burglars of which vehicles are most likely to contain firearms. Worse, while traveling out of State, CWP holders must worry that states which do not recognize our CWP will target marked vehicles for ‘routine traffic stops’ in hopes of finding an illegal firearm.

While this bill is trying to accomplish something helpful, it leaves much to be desired and further complicates a section of law that is already overly complicated.

S. 143 : Universal Background Check, Positive Result

Senator McLeod proposes requiring a background check for all transfers of firearms and denying the transfer of a firearm until the background check is complete and the recipients background cleared for owning a firearm.

Such a provision would criminalize the transfer of firearms between private parties, including family members, and would allow the FBI to deny someone their gun rights by merely delaying, or neglecting, to answer an enquiry. Recently, the NICs system has been so overloaded that delays are routinely given in the majority of cases, and very seldom does the FBI actually follow up on such delays. This bill in effect would strip a Constitutionally protected right from many people without due process.

S. 158 : 28 Day Waiting Period

Senator Malloy proposes requiring a 28 day waiting period for the transfer of a firearm by a licensed dealer unless the transfer is approved by NICs before the 28 day period has expired. This bill suffers the same problems mentioned above, but to a degree limited by the waiting period. Unfortunately, there are known cases where a person waiting for the government to approve her firearm purchase was murdered. Longer waiting periods only increase the chances of such incidents.

 S. 159 : 28 Day Waiting Period

Senator Malloy proposes the same as above, but would place the language in a slightly different area of the SC Legislative Code. The effect would be the same.

Summary

These are only the existing pre-filed bills in the Senate. New bills will continue to be filed, and these bills are likely to be amended if taken up by the Senate and House. The SC firearm rights organization, SC Carry, will monitor these bills and attempt to prevent the passage of any bill that negatively affects firearm owners. If you wish to get involved and support pro-firearm rights legislation, I encourage you to contact SC Carry.

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