South Carolina becomes 29th state in nation with constitutional carry law: ‘hard-fought victory’

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FIRST ON FOX: South Carolina Gov. Henry McMaster signed permitless carry into law Thursday, marking the second Republican-led state in two days to adopt constitutional carry gun laws. 

“This new law will provide strict increased penalties for illegal gun use and possession by criminals. Now, law enforcement, prosecutors and judges can keep career violent criminals behind bars where they belong, where they can no longer hurt innocent South Carolinians,” McMaster said this week of the legislation. 

The bill allows eligible citizens 18 and older to carry a firearm in public without gaining approval and a permit from the government. The state Senate passed the bill Wednesday in a 28-18 vote, while the state House passed the legislation the day prior, with lawmakers voting 86-33.

The bill’s primary sponsor, Republican state Rep. Bobby J. Cox told Fox News Digital that the signing of the legislation marks “a long and hard-fought victory for South Carolina.”

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“Gov. McMaster and my colleagues across both chambers of the Legislature have sent a resounding message: South Carolinians should never require government permission to defend themselves, their families, and their communities. Our God-given right to self-defense, as enshrined in the Second Amendment to the Constitution, is unequivocally affirmed, just as our founding fathers intended. Thank you to my fellow NRA members, gun owners, and patriots throughout South Carolina who have tirelessly worked to make this day a reality,” he said. 

McMaster is the second Republican governor this week to sign such legislation into law, following Louisiana Gov. Jeff Landry signing his state’s version of permitless carry into law on Tuesday. 

Henry McMaster

National Rifle Association interim Executive Vice President and CEO Andrew Arulanandam applauded the NRA and its supporters securing constitutional carry in a second state in a matter of roughly 48 hours. 

“Thanks to the unwavering support of our members, in about 48 hours, the NRA has secured Constitutional Carry victories in two states, Louisiana and South Carolina, bringing the total to 29 states that have enacted this critical legislation—13 since Joe Biden took office,” Arulanandam said in an exclusive comment to Fox News Digital. 

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“The NRA is here to stay, relentlessly fighting across this entire nation. Make no mistake, doubting the NRA and our members is a sure path to defeat, as history has consistently shown that challenging the NRA’s resolve results in a loss every time.

Andrew Arulanandam

South Carolina is the 29th state in the nation to sign its version of constitutional carry into law. Florida had the honor last year to tip the U.S. as a permitless carry-majority nation, when Gov. Ron DeSantis signed his state’s legislation into law last April. 

Under South Carolina’s law, carrying a firearm is still banned in certain locations, such as schools, courthouses and polling places on election days. Residents can still obtain a permit if they wish to do so. The bill also increases penalties against those who are barred from carrying a firearm, such as convicted felons, if they are found with a gun, and establishes penalties against those who repeatedly carry a firearm in restricted areas. 

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“The NRA celebrates another significant milestone as South Carolina becomes the 29th state to enact the landmark NRA-backed Constitutional Carry legislation. This pivotal move ensures South Carolinians are no longer required to obtain permission to defend themselves and their families, reinforcing the fundamental right to self-defense,” NRA-ILA Executive Director Randy Kozuch told Fox News Digital in an exclusive comment. 

“Governor McMaster honored his commitment by swiftly signing this vital legislation into law, doing so less than 24 hours after its passage by the South Carolina Legislature. This prompt action has garnered widespread praise from the NRA’s millions of members,” Kozuch continued. 

DESANTIS’ SIGNATURE TIPS US INTO MAJORITY ‘CONSTITUTIONAL CARRY’ NATION WITH NEW FLORIDA GUN RIGHTS LAW

He thanked Cox for advocating for the bill as its primary sponsor, alongside state lawmakers such as Speaker G. Murrell Smith, Jr., Sen. Shane Martin, Sen. Wes Climer, Rep. Jason Elliot and Rep. Micah Caskey for their “collective dedication has been instrumental in advancing the right to self-defense in South Carolina.”

“Most importantly, thank you, NRA members, because without you, none of this would be possible.”

Critics of the bill argued it could drive crime and gun-related deaths as more people will likely carry firearms. 

“With all of the killings, in South Carolina and in America, why do we want to promote, what we consider to be the Second Amendment right, why won’t we put restrictions on it, why are we going to allow people to carry more guns and this time without a CWP,” Democratic state Sen. Margie Bright Matthews argued this week.

“This is something I’m deeply troubled we’re doing,” Democratic state Rep. Seth Rose told House members this week. “I have friends and citizens from both political parties…come up to me and say ‘What are y’all doing? What are you thinking?’” 

Republican state Sen. Shane Martin, who supported the legislation, told Fox News Digital that the law is “about nothing more and nothing less than our God-given Constitutional rights.”

“I have sponsored Constitutional Carry legislation for more than a decade. I am proud and pleased that my perseverance on this fundamental question now means that law-abiding South Carolinians no longer must ask the government to exercise their freedoms,” he said. 

“I appreciate Senate Majority Leader Shane Massey for working with me to prioritize this bill in 2024, and I thank Senator Brad Hutto for his work on our conference committee. I was proud to lead this successful fight for our rights, and we need them now more than ever.”

Women gun owners

Robin Evans, founder and operator of a ​​boutique self-defense training company catering to women called Chicks with Triggers, told Fox News Digital that the new law will further empower citizens, especially women, who are taking their safety into their own hands. 

“As a dedicated firearms instructor in South Carolina, I have the honor of empowering thousands of women, many of whom have survived rape, domestic violence, stalking, and other unspeakable acts of violence. My mission is to equip these resilient women with firearms training and self-defense skills, ensuring they can protect themselves and their loved ones,” Evans, an NRA instructor, told Fox News Digital. 

Evans launched Chicks with Triggers during the pandemic. She told Fox News Digital in a previous interview late last year, explaining that she started the business thinking it would be her “little side hobby” to help equip women to fight threats through gun safety and self-defense lessons. The business quickly boomed, with Evans holding classes of between 25-30 women each weekend in South Carolina, North Carolina and Georgia. 

South Carolina Capitol

Evans said McMaster’s signature on the bill is a “monumental victory for South Carolina” and the women she trains to defend themselves from criminals. 

“Criminals don’t wait for permission to arm themselves illegally, and neither should the courageous women I stand with. We demand the right to self-defense without barriers. Today, we celebrate a monumental victory for South Carolina, making it the 29th state to recognize this essential freedom. On behalf of Chicks With Triggers and the fearless women we stand for, we thank Gov. McMaster, Rep. Cox, and the NRA for their unwavering dedication to securing this life-affirming law.

“Together, we are rewriting the narrative, from victims to victors,” she added. 

The law took effect upon the governor’s signature Thursday. 

The full list of states with constitutional carry laws now includes Alabama, Alaska, Arizona, Arkansas, Florida, Georgia, Idaho, Indiana, Iowa, Kansas, Kentucky, Louisiana, Maine, Mississippi, Missouri, Montana, Nebraska, New Hampshire, North Dakota, Ohio, Oklahoma, South Carolina, South Dakota, Tennessee, Texas, Utah, Vermont, West Virginia and Wyoming. 

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