Some gun owners will be able to openly carry concealable weapons starting Aug. 15, but state law enforcement officials are still working to answer questions about how the law will be enforced.
Gov. Henry McMaster signed the Open Carry with Training Act into law May 17, with the act taking effect Aug. 15. The law allows those who own handguns and who have a concealed weapon permit issued by the State Law Enforcement Division to openly carry those guns.
The law doesn’t change who can carry a firearm, only that CWP holders can now carry handguns openly in public, rather than having to conceal them. There are still restrictions on where people can carry a firearm, and public or private businesses and employers can still post signs prohibiting the carrying of weapons.
On the day McMaster signed the bill, SLED published a media release explaining the gist of the law and saying the agency would do what it needed to prepare for Aug. 15. Part of the law, available to read online at bit.ly/3pcX98k, removes SLED’s ability to charge a $50 fee for CWP and requires that SLED provide a training course to anyone seeking a CWP who is unable to find a course that meets the legal requirements.
State law used to say that SLED could charge a $50 fee for the training class to offset the costs of offering training, but the new law prohibits SLED from charging any fee for a CWP whatsoever.
“During the next 90 days, SLED will be working diligently to develop the necessary training curriculum for the handgun education course; coordinate with the South Carolina Criminal Justice Academy to create and provide training for law enforcement personnel; and overhaul our internal process to handle the required changes that impact applications and renewals,” the news release said.
Laying the groundwork for this law to take effect has left state officials to work out the finer points of the open carry act’s language, said SLED Public Information Officer Tommy Crosby.
The Index-Journal fielded several questions about the open carry law to Crosby the day after McMaster signed it, but the agency has not answered these questions. What is SLED having to do to adjust for the new requirement to offer handgun education courses? The law says if an applicant is unable to comply with the section requiring them to get training, that SLED will offer a course that does qualify. Who qualifies for those SLED-issued courses, and what will these classes look like?
How will local law enforcement go about enforcing a law that allows CWP holders to openly carry handguns?
McCormick Police Chief Bo Willis said he has received numerous phone calls from people asking about the open carry law. While he hasn’t had any problems with people openly carrying before the law’s enactment date, he said last week he’s still waiting on guidance from SLED on how to enforce the law.
Since SLED’s day-of news release summarizing the law, they’ve published one press release that only clarifies the implementation date of the law. Crosby couldn’t be reached for comment Tuesday via email or phone call.