Pro-Georgia Gun Bill Passes in South Carolina

South Carolina Gov. Nikki Haley will decide the fate of the South Carolina/Georgia reciprocity bill.
South Carolina Gov. Nikki Haley signs South Carolina/Georgia reciprocity bill.

Good news for Georgia residents with a concealed weapons permit.

As the 2016 South Carolina legislative session drew to an end on Thursday, June 2nd, a pro-Georgia gun bill was passed by the Senate and was sent to South Carolina Governor Nikki Haley’s desk for consideration. On Friday, June 3rd, Gov. Haley signed the bill into law.

The bill finally was passed after state Sen. Marlon Kimpson ended his opposition to the bill that would let Georgia residents with concealed weapons permits to legally carry their guns in South Carolina.

The fate of the bill was uncertain up until Tuesday night because Kimpson, a Democrat was frustrated over the lack of traction on gun reform bills in the Senate and had started a filibuster against it. He felt the bill wasn’t a good piece of legislation, arguing Georgia’s concealed weapons permitting process is not as complete as South Carolina’s.

Kimpson and other senators argued the Georgia bill has flaws because Georgia, unlike South Carolina, does not require firearms training and allows 18-year-olds to get permits.

Other senators argued that South Carolina already recognizes other states that allow 18-year-old permit holders. South Carolina recognizes concealed weapon permits from 22 states, including most in the Southeast. Advocates argue that not having reciprocity with the state’s western neighbor is a real inconvenience.

Kimpson argued Tuesday night that Georgia has collected far fewer records on those who have been adjudicated mentally ill, a factor that should disqualify someone from holding a concealed weapons permit or to buy a gun at a store, than South Carolina, even though South Carolina has less than half of Georgia’s population.

He said Wednesday, however, that he realizes most of the chamber likely supports the bill. And in fact, when it was finally brought to a vote, it passed 35-3, with Kimpson being one of the three votes against.

Kimpson wants tighter gun laws and background checks. In the end, Kimpson pulled down nearly 80 proposed changes he had pending late Wednesday night.

In exchange for Kimpson ending his block of the reciprocity bill, Sen. Larry Martin, R-Pickens, will create a Senate panel, which will include Kimpson, that will start hearings over the summer on background check legislation.

The bill, which lets South Carolina recognize Georgia’s concealed weapons permits, passed with no changes made by the Senate.

“I think it’s something that both states can really benefit from,” said Rep. Bill Hixon, R-North Augusta, the bill’s author. “It’s being a good neighbor.”

Hixon has been pushing for a reciprocity bill for six years. It mostly benefits state border residents who commute back and forth between both Georgia and South Carolina, sometimes multiple times a day.

As signed into law, Georgia residents with a concealed weapons permit will be able to lawfully carry their handgun in South Carolina. And, because Georgia’s law automatically accepts any state’s permit law that recognizes theirs, South Carolinians will also be able to carry their firearms when they too cross the border into Georgia.