NORTH AUGUSTA, S.C. (WSPA)—South Carolina Gov. Nikki Haley on Wednesday ceremonially signed a bill to allow concealed weapons permit holders in Georgia and North Carolina to carry their guns in South Carolina, which means South Carolina CWP holders can also carry in those states. South Carolina state lawmakers passed the bill in June and the governor signed it right away, putting the law into effect, but she wanted to have a ceremonial signing in North Augusta, just across the river from Georgia.
SC Rep. Bill Hixon, R-North Augusta, says getting reciprocity with Georgia was something his constituents asked him for constantly, since the city is so close to Augusta, Georgia. “I’ve already been to Augusta twice today. I’ll go over there two or three more times today,” he said, which made it difficult for people with concealed weapons permits.
Gov. Haley said, “We have a lot of our South Carolinians that work in Georgia. We have a lot of Georgians that work in South Carolina, and they should never worry about whether they’re in violation of the law.”
The bill passed easily in the legislature, by votes of 101 to 5 in the SC House and 35 to 3 in the SC Senate, but there was opposition. Critics were worried about allowing Georgia CWP holders to carry in South Carolina because Georgia does not require training in order to get a CWP.
But Jerry Henry, executive director of Georgia Carry, says while Georgia doesn’t require training it does encourage it, and requiring a specific amount of training isn’t necessarily a good thing because people have different backgrounds and experience. A military veteran wouldn’t need much training, while someone with no gun experience is likely to need a lot more than four hours of training, which is what South Carolina requires.
Henry says, “It is a Constitutional right and there’s no other Constitutional right that requires you to be trained before you can exercise that right.”
And he says Georgia’s experience within its borders shows that South Carolinians have no need to worry about Georgia CWP holders. “You will find no studies between any state that requires training and ones like Georgia that don’t where there is any difference in the accidental discharge or negligent discharge of any firearm. There are no studies that show that Georgia is not as safe as South Carolina,” he says.
While the new law affects CWP holders in all three states, Gov. Haley says it also affects the entire state of South Carolina. “Tourism in South Carolina, always come vacation, buy second homes, all of that, it gets in the way of all of that if they can’t legally do it, because no one wants to break the law. So if they’ve gotten their CWP in Georgia, we want them to be able to go to the beach in South Carolina and take it and not have to worry about anything happening. The same with North Carolina,” she says.
South Carolina lawmakers were not worried about reciprocity with North Carolina because it also requires firearms training in order to get a CWP.