Republican states are passing the "red flag" law

Photo: Illinois Gov. Bruce Rauner signs the “red flag” law on July 16, 2018, at the Thompson Center in Chicago. (Jose M. Osorio/Chicago Tribune)

On February 13th, 2019, in a letter urging Chairman Peter McCoy to take “swift and decisive action” to pass Constitutional Carry, a bill I filed to restore your right to carry openly or concealed without a permit, I warned:

“Failure to take decisive action to pass [Constitutional Carry] may send the signal that the South Carolina House is not willing to protect the citizen’s right to self-defense, at the precise moment when other states are advancing many forms of increased gun control.”

You see, I felt compelled to send him this urgent letter, which was signed by 18 of my colleagues in the South Carolina House, after reading about the progress that liberal anti-gun groups are making across the United States, following the Parkland tragedy.

For instance, John Feinblatt, president of Bloomberg’s Everytown for Gun Safety, was quoted in The Hill saying that “the old myth that gun safety was the third rail of American politics was just buried.”

He wasn’t just talking about states that flipped to Democrat majority in the mid-terms. On the contrary, he was referring to Republican Governors and legislatures in FL, IL, MD, MS, VT, LA, PN, TN, and UT—all of which passed laws last year that could be used to take guns without due process, including the “red flag” law.

It might get worse before it gets better, because according to Nico Bocour, state legislative director at the Giffords Law Center, this year “is looking like it will be as successful, if not more successful than 2018….State efforts to pass ‘red flag’ laws this year are especially likely to succeed.”

So what about South Carolina? For one thing, after a month of requests for a hearing on Constitutional Carry, Chairman Peter McCoy has not yet given me so much as an approximate time frame on when H.3456 will be heard in committee.

Worse, even though committee chairman have nearly unilateral power to pass or kill bills in their committees, I’m hearing through the grapevine that Chairman McCoy may be stalling for Speaker Jay Lucas, who apparently has no interest in passing Constitutional Carry this year. Their delays send a worrisome signal on Republican leadership’s position on gun rights.

Meanwhile, the “red flag” law has been filed in South Carolina—an egregious violation of the Second Amendment, which would have law enforcement take your guns on a mere accusation. (Good luck getting them back.) Already, some Republican House members have already gone on the record supporting “reasonable gun control,” like Rep. Gary Clary, of Pickens. Would he vote for the “red flag” law?

For a state like South Carolina, the best defense we have against the “red flag” law is for the legislature to take swift and decisive action to protect gun rights by passing H.3456, the Constitutional Carry Act. Doing so will send a clear signal that taking away your right to keep and bear arms is off the table.

How you can help

Find out where your Representative stands on H.3456, the Constitutional Carry Act, and urge them to quit stalling and pass the bill. Then send the same message to Chairman Peter McCoy.