South Carolina Governor Nikki Haley announced on Tuesday that she would be giving her support to a pending state Senate bill called the “Constitutional Carry Act.” According to The Post and Courier, the bill will allow state residents to carry a firearm—concealed or openly—without going through a criminal background check, training, or obtaining a permit.
Governor Haley recently signed into law a bill that will allow gun owners to practice concealed carry inside bars and restaurants, although it is still illegal for anyone handling a firearm to drink alcohol. Haley has a history of supporting the Second Amendment and gun ownership.
“Few things are as clearly defined as the right of individual Americans to own and use firearms,” Haley stated during her campaign for office in 2010. “The right to bear arms was deemed so critical by our Founders that they spelled it out in absolute terms, and it is my belief that any governmental action that undermines that right is in turn undermining the very freedoms that built our great nation. I hold a Concealed Weapons Permit myself, and as governor, I will continue to fight against any government infringement on the 2nd Amendment.”
The Constitutional Carry Act is coming under fire from critics, however, who say it is dangerous to allow concealed carry without a permit, background check, or basic training. According to state Senate Judiciary Committee chairman Larry Martin (R-Pickens), it will also allow people barred from carrying concealed firearms—such as criminals—to do so.
“Is it [carrying firearms] a right under our Constitution? Sure it is. But it’s also a huge responsibility that we as citizens should respect,” he told The State.
The sponsor of the Constitutional Carry Act, state Senator Lee Bright (R-Spartanburg), countered that people who have committed certain felonies should be able to defend themselves.
“Martha Stewart has a felony. Should she not be able to protect herself?” Bright said. “This is the right to self-defense. We sit up in this ivory tower and make decisions. […] People make mistakes in their lives and you say, ‘I’m going to fundamentally take away your right to defend yourself?’ This debate is about ‘Does the government know better or do the people know better?'”
The bill was shelved in the senate committee for consideration at a later date.
Image courtesy The Office of Governor Nikki Haley