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The student news site of Wando High School

Tribal Tribune

The student news site of Wando High School

Tribal Tribune

The student news site of Wando High School

Tribal Tribune

Restrictions lifted on open carry

S.C. legislation changes the game for constitutional carry
Helen Nang

A new open carry policy or better known as Constitutional Carry was signed by Governor Henry McMaster on March 7. The Constitutional Carry law lifted prior restrictions, and lowered the age limit to 18. Now citizens of South Carolina 18 and older can obtain and carry a firearm openly, without the need for a permit.

For senior Andrew Mallin, he felt a sense of alarm as he learned about South Carolina’s new open carry policies. Mallin said he believes the lowering of the age and fewer restrictions will be more dangerous, especially giving access to those still in high school.

“I fully understand the whole of people who talk about the Second Amendment being able to carry guns and weapons for self-defense, but I just feel that with such open access to people at such a young age, I think it can be really dangerous,” Mallin said. “I feel like it sort of reached a neutral point and people are sort of okay with it. There’s a normalcy to it which I think is just really sad and tragic that people can see something such normalcy and the promotion of the allowing of such dangerous weapons that can harm people such to an extent, kill them and people just see it as normal. They’re fine with something that is the new norm and it’s definitely alarming and I think it’s an issue.”

Even though two months have passed since this law was put into effect, Mallin still feels uneasiness with the lack of restrictions regarding the requirements to obtain a firearm openly.

“I [feel] a certain level of alarm because considering the leniency of the policy it seems to promote and allow [what] I think shouldn’t be given to [those] who are at the age of 18,” Mallin said. “You’re an adult at the age of 18 but you’re not a fully developed adult, you are still a teenager. You can still be in high school and so it just feels like a lot of opportunities given to people who don’t need it.”

Government teacher Caroline Merritt said that this law did not come out of the blue, as South Carolina previously had one similar. In 2021, the law that was passed said that as long as an individual had their concealed weapons permit, they would be able to carry a handgun in public places.

“We’ve had a form of open carry since 2021 but those… who were allowed to carry in public with the CWP had to be 21 years old, have to have eight hours of training and have to pass a background check,” Merritt said. “So essentially what this law [the law signed in 2024] did was just take away all those ramifications in order to carry so you don’t have to have a CWP, you don’t have to pass a background check, you don’t have to have training and as long as you are legal to buy a weapon.”

With the passing of the law on March 7, South Carolina became the 29th state with some form of Constitutional Carry in the law books.

“Governor Henry McMaster said for years he would sign any bill as long as it could pass in both chambers and it did and then he signed the law on March 7 and it immediately took effect,” Merritt said.

However, despite this now being the law, Merritt has her speculations, although can see why other individuals are for it.

“It’s hard for me to see any pros, but to play devil’s advocate, people that were in favor of this law say that the Constitution gives them a right to carry these weapons and so any law restricting that right is a violation of the Constitution, which is why that those in favor of this law tend to call it Constitutional Carry and it’s just exercising their right,” Merritt said. “I think the thing that stuck out the most to me was that during the [public hearings] leading up to this law, many law enforcement agencies spoke out against… I want  to support our law enforcement and I don’t think this being passed makes their job any easier so that is what really sealed the deal for my view was law enforcement agencies speaking out against it and saying it was going to make their jobs harder.”

Merritt also finds the age drop to be concerning, as people as young as 18 can now carry around an non-concealed weapon without a permit.

Charlotte Baxter

“I definitely don’t think teenagers in some cases need to be walking around with a gun without a permit especially when there’s no training required. That’s even more scary because even if you’re trying to do something good or even trying to protect yourself, when you don’t have training in the heat of a moment you could hurt somebody or hurt yourself and think about all the training law enforcement goes through and then we are just gonna give regular civilians the same access to those weapons,” Merritt  said. “I think we are going to have a lot more issues where we have people wanting to like vigilantes, wanting to enact their own form of justice thinking they are doing something right or accidental shootings where people  aren’t meaning to harm people but something terrible happens… I think… it will bring about more issues.”

Unlike both Mallin and Merritt, sophomore Tim Young sees the law as a step forward for the state.

“I feel like guns and ownership of confident people in society is a good thing… because bad people with guns are the minority and I feel like majority of the people are good, so the more people that have guns that are educated on I feel like society is safer,” Young said.

Young also finds this law to benefit him and his family’s personal lives.

“My dad likes to read up on that kind of stuff and we’re gun owners ourselves so he was… kind of excited about it. He went through a bunch of things with concealed carry getting his permits. He works security at our church so arms… are a pretty big thing in our family and he was pretty excited because it’s been an advancement in gun rights which a lot of restrictions have been happening lately with [gun rights],” Young said.

Whether for or against the Constitutional Carry Law, Merritt believes the middle ground to guarantee safety and rights is responsibility.

“I am of the belief that people that are gun owners owe it to the public to be responsible gun owners and so I am not necessarily against guns, I’m not against people owning guns,” Merritt said. “I think these people should be required to, one pass [a] background check, that they should have firearm training, firearm safety and I think it should almost be kind of the process of getting a driver’s license. You’ve got to get your permit, you’re restricted, [you] have to pass a test, I mean it’s a deadly weapon and so the people that carry them, we need to be able to trust them.”

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    Gregory GrimesMay 13, 2024 at 8:26 PM

    I see people that are against someone 18 carrying a firearm. Here is the problem I have with this. I enlisted in the army at 18. I was trained to use an M16 rifle, an M60 machine gun, a Grenade launcher and multiple other weapons at 18. I don’t have a problem with someone having a firearm at 18 with the proper training. That is the key. Training. Make them take a training class. I don’t care how old you are take the class.