More people will be openly carrying guns in SC. Does that make you happy?


You may have seen this news a couple of days ago:

COLUMBIA — Trained South Carolina gun owners will likely soon be able to carry pistols openly in public after the state Senate fast-tracked, prioritized and ultimately approved a bill to expand the rights of concealed weapons permit-holders.

After multiple days of debate, the Senate voted 28-16 late in the evening May 6 in favor of the bill. They rejected attempts by some conservative Republicans to transform it into a more expansive bill, known by supporters as “constitutional carry,” to let all legal gun owners carry openly without a permit….

This was something of a surprise to Micah Caskey, who had co-sponsored the bill and played a significant role in herding it through the House. He had predicted that it wouldn’t make it through the Senate this year. But it did.

He also had predicted that the separate bill that would have simply granted everyone who isn’t specifically barred by law from having a gun to carry without a CWP or anything would not pass, either. He was right about that, but just barely. The Senate nearly passed that measure, called “constitutional carry” — a very puzzling piece of legislation that I’ll come back to later, if I remember.

Remind me if I don’t. I’ve been writing this in chunks today because I’ve had to run a bunch of errands today, and tomorrow is Mother’s Day and promises to be busy, and I’m determined to get it written this weekend. Finally.

I’ve got kind of a complex about this post because I called and talked to Micah about all of this three weeks ago. It was on the Friday, April 16. I couldn’t get it written that day, but I was sure I’d write it over the weekend. Then on Saturday, I tore my hand up, and couldn’t type for more than a week. And then when I could type, I was catching up on stuff I had to get done, and not too worried about getting this done, since I didn’t expect the Senate to act on it this year. But as I mentioned, they did.

I had called Micah because I wanted to ask him a question, which went kind of like this: “I could use some help understanding what it is that persuaded you that people didn’t have sufficient right to carry guns about, and that that needed addressing…”

As y’all know, I’m about out of Republicans I can vote for. I’ve mentioned previously that Micah — my state rep — is about the only one left that I might have the opportunity to vote for in the foreseeable future. He didn’t have opposition in 2020, so I didn’t vote for him. But if someone opposes him in ’22, I probably will.

In spite of this. I definitely oppose what he and his caucus are doing here, but hey, there’s not anyone on the planet I agree with about everything. Not Joe Biden. Not James Smith. Not even Joe Riley, although in his long career he came closer than anybody. I’m not even sure I’d have agreed with Abraham Lincoln about everything, especially back in his Whig days.

He’s wrong on this gun thing, but I wanted to hear what he had to say about it. If he’d given me any of that “God-given rights” garbage like that Shane Martin guy that Jamie Lovegrove quoted, I’d be down to ZERO Republicans I can vote for. (If God really saw it as essential that I go about armed, why wasn’t I born with a Smith & Wesson in my hand? That could have saved a lot of money. Guns are pricey these days.)

But Micah didn’t, and I didn’t expect him to. He was reasonable as always. Just wrong — about this.

Here’s the way he laid it out to me…

As mentioned before, there are two House bills: 3094 and 3096. The second one was the crazy one — my word, of course, not Micah’s. The other one was the more moderate option — basically not changing much except that people who now have Concealed Weapon Permits would no longer have to, you know, conceal them. The reassuring thing for someone like me, Micah explained, is that 3094 was there to give more moderate Republicans an opportunity to demonstrate their great fealty to the “There aren’t enough guns out there!” crowd, without going whole-hog crazy (again, that’s me, not Micah).

About that “someone like me” phrase… It’s not that Micah is some gun nut and I’m someone who would sweep away the “God-given rights” that so concern Sen. Martin. No. In fact, I’ve never been much of a gun-control advocate. Not that I wouldn’t snap my fingers and have all the guns in private hands disappear. It’s just that I’m not likely to have that power at any point, and here in the real world, I don’t see how any control measure that would ever stand the slightest chance of passing would solve the real problem.

And what’s “the real problem?” It’s that so incredibly many guns exist and are out there in private hands. Those God-given rats (there he goes, sneaking in another “Gettysburg” reference) that certain people fuss over — you know, the “taking guns out of the hands of law-abiding citizens while criminals have them” stuff — is an irrelevant point. It’s not about this or that person’s supposed moral superiority or greater entitlement. It’s that the virtue or lack thereof of the gun owner doesn’t mean a thing.

That’s because there are 390 million guns in private hands in this country, and only 328 million people live here. So pretty much everybody who really wants a gun has one, whether he is a hero or a villain. In fact, he most likely has several, because so many people don’t want guns and don’t have them. According to Gallup, only about 32 percent of Americans, no doubt out of a feeling of obligation to follow the will of the Almighty, actually arm themselves. That’s about 105 million people. That means they own an average of about 3.7 guns apiece.

That means if there is a criminal out there somewhere — you know, an undeserving sort, a bad guy, a thorough wrong ‘un — who for some reason does not yet have a gun, he can easily go out and obtain one. Or two, or three. Because, you know what criminals do — they steal stuff. And this is made easy for them because there are so damned many guns out there. (Go ahead and give me an extended sermon about how securely you store your guns. Well, plenty of people do not.)

One more point, and this one may distress the folks who are most concerned with the “rights” question: The world is not as neatly divided into “good guys” and “bad guys” as they would like. Occasionally, a good guy has a bad day. Or worse, his children find the handgun.

(A brief note of apology to Micah and other Marines out there — in these figures I’m citing, I’m afraid I am including rifles within the category of “guns.” I do know the difference — so I don’t need a drill sergeant to send me about the boot camp declaiming upon the subject with my pants undone. I am simply doing so for convenience, and getting away with it because I am not a boot. Fortunately, in a moment I’ll return to the subject of House bills 3094 and 3096, which I think only concern actual guns, since qualified South Carolinians already have the right to carry their rifles openly.)

So anyway, I’m not terribly optimistic about, say, stricter background checks solving the problem of, say, mass shootings in America. Oh, it might keep this or that gun out of the hands of the wrong person — or the “right” person on a bad day. And for that reason, were I to be a member of a legislative body and had the opportunity to vote for such a marginal measure, I would. I just wouldn’t have great hope of it solving the problem, which is the existence of too many guns in the private sector.

What I most assuredly would not do would be to vote for a completely unnecessary bill that addresses some vague problem that simply does not exist. It’s kind of like what we just saw in Florida. The state just ran as flawless an election as we’re ever likely to see in this sin-stained world, and Florida lawmakers still passed legislation to solve the nonexistent “problem.” This is the same deal, only with deadly weapons.

Which brings us back to 3094 and 3096. (See, I did get back to them.)

As you recall, I asked Micah, “What is it about the current situation in our state and country (on the day of the third mass shooting of the year in Indianapolis) that makes you or anyone else think: We don’t have enough people carrying around guns? Secondly, what makes you think current law doesn’t LET people carry guns around enough?”

To the latter, he responded, “There is an express prohibition on openly carrying a handgun now.” True enough. Why this is a problem remains unclear to me. And as I said, I’ll get back to the subject of 3096 — of “constitutional carry.”

As to why either bill is there and being voted upon, Micah mentioned that he is chairman of the general laws subcommittee of House Judiciary. He suggested, or at least implied, that this imposes certain obligations upon him.

He noted that in the 2020 elections, Republicans were “given even larger majorities.” He added that among Republicans, “Some say we haven’t been given sufficient exercise of our 2nd Amendment rights.” Those people say, “We want to be able to do this.” Which places a certain obligation upon him as a Republican subcommittee chairman, that being what so many constituents want.

OK, another digression: As I’ve said many times, I like having Micah as my representative. (You may recall that I actually briefly considered running for the position myself, on the UnParty ticket, but when I met Micah and spoke with him at length I decided I’d just as soon vote for him. And the only way he’s going to get to represent the district in which I live, and continue to do so, is if he runs as a Republican. And that means certain things, including things I don’t like.

It’s the same with Democrats. Vote for them, and they’re likely to be pushing something else I don’t like — such as, say, hate crime laws. (No, they’re not quite the same thing, but I’m pretty strongly opposed to them, too.)

So Micah is doing the will of many, many constituents when he does this. Nor does he have to misrepresent himself to advocate for these measures. He can quite honestly say that the change of the “open carry” provision is fairly minor — people could already carry the weapons, just concealed.

As for “constitutional carry,” he is able to just as honestly say that “I do tend to take the view that the 2nd amendment doesn’t have a permit requirement in it.”

Here’s where I get back to 3096, and the fundamental logical problem with it, apart from whether we think it to be wise legislation. The South Carolina General Assembly does not have the power to declare, with legal effect, what the U.S. Constitution says and what it does not say. That is a power and obligation reserved to the federal courts. If you want a constitutional provision to be interpreted a certain way, you take the matter to court.

And as soon as I said that to Micah, which I did, I realized why some want to pass a bill such as 3096. Like so much that South Carolina Legislature does under Republican control, voting for this bill is not about having an effect on the real world. It’s about signaling to the Trumpian base that you are on their side. If a court does it, thereby having an effect on the real world, you don’t get any credit for it.

Once you know that, you understand what the Legislature is doing, on issue after issue.

The other day, I was exchanging email with a longtime friend who was thinking about not going to the State House next week because she has a super-busy week, but at the same time, “I hate to miss the last week of the regular session.”

This caused me to harrumph about how back in my day, the Legislature didn’t quit work this early. You know, people advocated for shortening the session for many years before they succeeded a few years back. And I always argued against it, because even when they stayed until June, the session was never long enough. They would always go home with so much important state business undone. You know, important stuff like what I used to write about all the time at the paper.

But then, because of these bills and so much else, I thought, if you’re not going to do anything useful to anyone, and just spend time doing things to pose and posture for your base, might as well go home early.

Anyway, in the future, I’d like to see my representative and those other people do something actually helpful and worthwhile, something South Carolina needs. Whether it’s improving public health or education or roads or doing the kind of wonkish stuff I like, it would be nice to see again. And I know Micah and some other folks have good ideas like that…

M&R Photography

Lots and lots and lots of guns. This was at the Houston Gun show at the George R. Brown Convention Center in 2007.

22 thoughts on “More people will be openly carrying guns in SC. Does that make you happy?

  1. Ken

    Claiming that we need to pass 3094 in order to undercut something crazier (3096) isn’t very responsible reasoning. Because there will often be more extreme and irresponsible proposals to fend off. And fending them off will only be made harder when the appeasers, like Caskey, take the view of the hard-liners that the Constitution doesn’t actually recognize permitting. It’s the easy route to making the fringe part of the mainstream.

  2. Barry

    First let let me say , I am a Concealed Weapons Permit holder. I’ve had my CWP for a good 8 or 9 years (or maybe longer, I can’t recall).

    Second – I almost never carry one of my pistols on me, concealed. When I know I will be driving at night, I often will slip one into my glove box in my vehicle (no CWP required for that).

    I have NO interest in carrying one of my pistols on my hip – open carry style. ZERO. My dad, a huge gun aficionado and former Army Drill Sergeant, feels the same way. So regardless of the law, neither one of us will open carry. Simply no interest.

    The great thing about carrying concealed is – that it’s concealed. The element of surprise is a huge advantage in the extremely unlikely scenario that any particular CWP holder would ever need to even draw their weapon.

    I am also someone that realizes that the sight of guns in public make a lot of my fellow citizens very nervous. Not everyone grows up around guns, even in South Carolina. Personally, I have NO interest in making those around me including families, and small children, nervous or uncomfortable. I don’t believe that’s a good way to live or a good way to treat other people.

    I recall several years back being at a sub restaurant in North Carolina and seeing several men carrying openly. They were no law enforcement. I could hear their conversation so that much was clear. Carrying openly seems to generate a certain unnecessary bravado with certain people- and these guys were demonstrating that to everyone in the store simply trying to enjoy their lunch. They set an incredibly poor example. Clearly, not every gun owner that will carry openly will set such an example. But again, it was all so unnecessary I could see the unease on the face of other customers. I thought to myself at the time that it was pretty sad.

    I knew South Carolina would eventually adopt something similar. We have a lot of people that believe that carrying openly makes them look big/tough. I genuinely think most of the motivation comes from people that think wearing a gun openly makes them look like big shots.

    I also think that most of the people that do such don’t have much else in their lives that would impress anyone. So a gun it is.

    The truth is – unless you are involved in buying drugs or owning money to people for drugs, the chances of you being a crime victim out in the open where a gun would ever be needed is infinitesimally small.

    But no, I’m not surprised that Mica Caskey would support it- or that South Carolina would pass it. Why is anyone surprised at what South Carolina does these days?

    1. Barry

      I will add

      Folks like Micah and his fellow open carry supporters are pretty cowardly that they won’t allow the good, law abiding citizens of South Carolina to carry openly in the state house or on state house grounds.

      What better place for South Carolina citizens to exercise their freedoms than the “people’s house.” Yet, that’s a bridge too far.

      How pathetic.

      I also noticed they eliminated the $50 administrative fee to SLED for the processing of the paperwork, fingerprints, storage of records, and background check that is required. Apparently SLED is donating this service to the freeloaders – I mean – CWP holders of South Carolina who don’t want to pay their fair share.

      1. Barry

        For example, SLED has had to rely on volunteers in the past to screen folks for a CWP because of the administrative load it placed on employees.

        COLUMBIA, SC (WIS) – Authorities say a four-year-old girl from Salley is recovering after she grabbed a gun out of her grandmother’s purse and shot herself in the Harbison Blvd. Sam’s Club Monday.

        Investigators believe the child was sitting in the shopping cart pushed by her grandmother, Aiken County Magistrate Donna Hutto Williamson. Police say the child pulled the gun out of Williamson’s purse and accidentally shot herself in the chest.

  3. James Edward Cross

    I think there’s a firearms bias for those defenders of the Second Amendment. I mean, “arms” denotes more than guns. So why can’t I wear a sword or kukris openly? If Second Amendment supporters get upset on restrictions on magazine sizes, etc. then why would they be supportive of restrictions on blade length?

    1. Barry

      Recently, I’ve been watching a bunch of online videos of open carry individuals in states with open carry laws and their encounters with police.

      It’s a minefield. Police get a LOT OF PHONE CALLS from citizens concerned with people openly carrying weapons in public- and or course officers have to go investigate – which creates problems/conflict with folks openly carrying their weapons in public.

      The idea of open carry can sound a bit different when the person openly carrying is standing in front of your house on the sidewalk with a gun on their belt, folks in that neighborhood don’t much like it. But, it’s perfectly legal.

      For example, I wonder how Rep Caskey- and those like him- and their neighbors would feel if some folks decide to hang out in front of their home with their pistols on full display? Please understand, that’s not a threat.

      That’s what is allowed by open carry and it is perfectly legal. The police can’t do anything about it. In fact, the police shouldn’t even be involved. The citizen doing such a thing has every legal right in the world to hang out there and not answer any police questions. So expect to see- for example- in a political protest of some type- plan to see folks openly carrying their weapons – likely in front of the houses of politicians.

      1. Brad Warthen Post author

        Well, I too am concerned about innocent people being made uncomfortable by such nonsense. This is made worse, of course, by the fact that the people who want to do this — play cowboy in the 21st century — are so often people who would make a lot of people uncomfortable if they were NOT armed.

        I’d be happier if lawmakers added an amendment making ONE caveat to the new rule: If you WANT to do it, you can’t. Everybody else is free to openly carry. Because if you feel the strong urge to play Billy the Kid in public, I’ve very worried about your mental state.

        Of course, I think that way because I’m most assuredly not a libertarian. I don’t see every issue in terms of what this or that person gets to do. It’s not about rights. It’s about responsibility. I think in terms of, is this something society as a whole needs? Which I believe should be the main concern in the minds of lawmakers. And this legislation does not pass that test…

        1. Barry

          Remember just a few years ago Rep Ralph “Wild West” Norman pulled out his LOADED .38 pistol at a campaign event and propped it up on a table “for several minutes” in a crowded restaurant.

          Remeber what “Wild West” said? “I’m not going to be a Gabby Giffords,” referring to the former Arizona Democratic congresswoman who was shot outside a Tucson-area grocery store.

          Of course the really dumb thing about Ralph’s statement (not to mention his dumb action) was that holding a pistol would have done Rep Giffords no good. The man who shot her had a 33 round magazine, ran up to the crowd suddenly- shooting indiscriminately before anyone knew what was happening, hitting 19 people, killing 6 – including a federal judge and a 9 year old child. A man on the scene had a CWP, and pulled out his gun – and almost shot the wrong person.

          As a CWP holder, that was against the law. But because Ralph is a politician, he was allowed to break the law with no ramifications, with none of the “law and order” crowd having any problem with Ralph breaking the law.

  4. bud

    This is going to get interesting once BLM protesters start marching through wealthy white neighborhoods with guns strapped to their belts

  5. Mark Stewart

    It’s all just little d#ck energy on display – by proponents and, sadly, even by legislators not in favor of “Constitutional Carry.” Open carry is about intimidation; nothing more, no matter what is claimed. Let’s call it what it is – weak and insecure reactionary-ism. At least brass balls hanging from a truck hitch don’t have the potential to harm other people; but guns openly displayed tend to be a magnate for confrontation.

  6. Bill

    No matter how well intentioned,don’t you realize that voting for rednecks like Caskey are what brought us what’s his name ?

  7. Doug Ross

    The two teenagers who were shot and killed last night in Lower Richland will be two more than will be killed illegally by CWP holders in the next five years.

    The problem isn’t legal, trained, responsible gun owners. But let’s pretend it is. Because it’s all about politics for some people, not addressing the actual problem.

  8. bud

    Rand Paul is one obnoxious SOB. He keeps tangling with Dr. Fauci and he looks stupider and stupider with each encounter. Jerk.

    1. Doug Ross

      The same Fauci who said it would be impossible to have a vaccine by the end of the year? or the one who said masks weren’t necessary? or the one who now says we won’t be safe until next mother’s day? he’s a politician and a little too enamored with his celebrity status. Paul read him the facts and Fauci deflected and dodged.

      1. Doug Ross

        Your comment about Paul is telling in that you can’t address the real gun problem so you pull out some random anti republican hate. Do you think CWP open carry is a bigger issue than gangs with illegal guns? If you do, take a stroll thru Five Points tonight around midnight.

      2. bud

        No he didn’t. You’re just flat out wrong. Rand Paul is a joke, a jerk and a disgrace. His neighbor who whipped his ass deserves a medal.

      3. Barry

        In sept 2020, he said vaccines would likely start in early 2021.

        A perfectly reasonable prediction given how vaccines typically work and the unique circumstances being faced.. He did not promise anything and he didn’t say it was impossible.

        Let’s not pretend there were not PLENTY of others making some interesting predictions last year.

        WASHINGTON — Dr. Anthony Fauci said he’s sticking with his projection that a safe and effective coronavirus vaccine may be ready in early 2021. He said it’s possible it could be sooner, but “unlikely.”

        The White House adviser on the coronavirus told “CBS This Morning “the more likely scenario is that we will know by the end of this calendar year and hopefully we’ll be able to start vaccinations in earnest as we begin early 2021.”

  9. Barry

    A lawyer on Sirius radio today was dissecting Rand’s arguments today.

    In typical Rand fashion, he was taking things out of context, and even anti vaccine nut job Alex Berenson mentioned that it the facts weren’t quite as Paul was trying to make out.

    Another commentator pointed out that Rand Paul, in his question time, simply reads from prepared text that someone wrote for him when he questions Fauci. No, not all senators do that. Many speak off the cuff. He theorized that Rand is pretty intimidated by someone like Fauci – as Fauci tends to get the best of him in their meetings.

    That’s the great thing about being in Fauci’s position. He doesn’t need the job.

    The last poll I saw said ..”Fauci, the nation’s top infectious disease official and Biden’s chief medical adviser, still enjoys high ratings, according to the poll. 60% of voters rate his handling of the virus as “excellent” or “good,

    That’s higher than Congress as a whole, and much higher than any Republican.

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