SC Sheriff Says He Fears Constitutional Carry Will Turn State Into ‘Wild, Wild West’ – Bearing Arms

SC Sheriff Says He Fears Constitutional Carry Will Turn State Into ‘Wild, Wild West’ – Bearing Arms

Now that South Carolina has officially become the 29th state to adopt Constitutional Carry (and the 28th to have the law formally take effect, since Louisiana’s new statute doesn’t kick in until July 4th), the state’s few pro-gun control voices are ramping up their fearmongering. Everytown for Gun Safety’s South Carolina chapter is already predicting the new law will lead to more violence and less safety, while the state’s most politically powerful sheriff says he’s turning to the Almighty to protect the state from Constitutional Carry’s effects. 

Law enforcement agencies in South Carolina are bracing for what could happen as permitless carry of handguns becomes more widespread in the coming weeks, with one sheriff already fearing the worst.

“I just said a prayer last night that I hope my greatest fears don’t come true, and that’s that South Carolina becomes the Wild, Wild West,” Richland County Sheriff Leon Lott told The Post and Courier.

Lott’s comments came as Gov. Henry McMaster signed a bill into law March 7 granting state residents the right to have handguns in most public places.

Key among the change is that obtaining a concealed weapons permit — and the training and background checks that come with it — is no longer necessary.

Additionally, the age to carry a gun lowered from 21 to 18, and firearms no longer have to be secured in the glove compartment or center console of a car.

I’ll never mock a person for talking to God, but it would behoove Lott to also speak to some of his colleagues in the 27 states where Constitutional Carry has been in place for at least a year before he starts panicking about a Wild West revival in the southeastern United States. 

Constitutional Carry is already the law of the land in nearby states like Georgia, Florida, Alabama, and Tennessee, and none of them have descended into anarchy since the law took effect. In fact, most cities in those states saw a decline in homicides last year. Murders were down 22 percent in Atlanta, 40 percent in Miami, 33 percent in Knoxville, and 6 percent in Birmingham, to cite just a few examples.

I have a feeling, though, that even talking things over with his counterparts in other Constitutional Carry states wouldn’t soothe Lott’s concerns. He also had major concerns when Gov. Henry McMaster signed legislation three years ago allowing those with concealed carry licenses to open carry as well.

Still, unless Lott and other opponents of Constitutional Carry believe that South Carolinians are just fundamentally less responsible and downright dumber than Floridians, Georgians, and Tennesseans, there’s no reason to freak out over the change to state law. The vast majority of people aren’t going to carry a firearm until they feel comfortable doing so; not because the law demands it but because they’re not complete idiots. They don’t want to run the legal risk of doing something wrong, but they also don’t want to risk shooting themselves or others because they’re unfamiliar with their carry gun. 

It’s not like Constitutional Carry has turned firearm instructors into an endangered species in the states where it’s already in place. As it turns out, most people who lawfully own a gun want to be competent with it. What they don’t like are mandates, because all too often they can be crafted to be punitive, not educational; requiring a huge amount of time and money before receiving their Second Amendment permission slips. 

I suspect that the training courses that will soon be put on by sheriffs free of charge to the public will prove to be popular, and they’re guaranteed to dramatically expand training opportunities, especially for those on the lower end of the economic spectrum. 

Will Constitutional Carry eradicate violent crime in South Carolina? Of course not, but I dont’ know anyone making that claim. I feel confident, however, that the state won’t become any wilder than it already is now that legal gun owners can lawfully carry without a license, and Sheriff Lott’s fears will be proven to be misplaced, just as they were when it came to open carry a few years ago.    

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