Here is how to look at H. 3094.
First, go to https://www.scstatehouse.gov/sess124_2021-2022/bills/3094.htm
. This brings you to the official SC General Assembly web site and H. 3094.
Next, scroll down to “Versions of this bill” and click on 5/7/2021. This brings you to the last marked up version of the bill. This allows you to see exactly what was changed with the exact deletions and additions to existing laws, and what completely new things were added.
Once you get to the 5/7/2021 version of the bill, you can start to analyze the legislation. So, lets start from the beginning and go through things section by section.
Sections 1 through 3 have no significant changes other than allowing open carry.
Section 4 will be addressed after Section 5 to better understand things.
Section 5 addresses the posting of signs to prohibit concealed carry or open carry. The history of this section of law is important. Under the original concealed carry law, concealed weapon permit holders could not know whether a property was posted or not prior to entering the premises. You could go to the mall and not know you were on posted premises until you read the small print at the bottom of a mall kiosk in the center of the food court. But, by that time, you had already broken the law. GrassRoots GunRights drafted and pushed legislation to get standardized signage for signs that prohibited concealed carry so that concealed carry permit holders would be given proper notice they were breaking the law prior to breaking the law. Thanks to GrassRoots GunRights, concealed carry permit holders know to simply look at the entrance to a building to see whether it is posted against concealed carry. Unfortunately, Section 5 simply confuses things and puts concealed weapon permit holders at great risk. The added “D” section of Section 5 states that a sign “which may be unique to that business” can be posted. What the hell does that even mean? Sections A, B, and C all detail exactly what a sign shall be in order to be legally enforceable against a concealed weapon permit holder. Then, section D says forget about sections A, B, and C. So, is the law that which is detailed in sections A, B, and C, or is the law whatever is allowed in section D? This is an issue of criminal law. Criminal law should not be so poorly written that you can not know what it is.
Section 4 is about posting signs to prohibit concealed weapons upon the premises. Section 4 adds openly carried to concealed carry for purposes of prohibiting concealed weapons upon the premises. This simple change is not actually a simple change. Lets be honest, open carry will frighten many people. So, what does a business owner do who wants to allow concealed carry, but not open carry because it frightens too many customers? Under H. 3094, the business owner only has one option. The business owner must post a sign that prohibits BOTH concealed carry and open carry. Is this the situation we want to force upon business owners? On one hand, business owners might decide not to offend concealed weapon permit holders and not post. But, on the other hand, business owners might well post against concealed carry just to ensure there is no open carry that frightens their customers. This is a gamble that gun owners could easily lose.
Then, Section 4 goes even further to screw things up by adding a section C that allows for a “unique” sign that any business can post IN ADDITION TO the already legally proscribed signs to prohibit both concealed weapons and openly carried weapons. So, which sign is legally enforceable if the “unique” sign differs from the legally proscribed sign?
There is an old saying that if it ain’t broke, don’t fix it. The SC sign laws were not broke until H. 3094 broke them. Get rid of all of the “unique” sign provisions. No one knows what they are, and it will cost a lot of money in legal fees to find out the hard way. Do NOT force business owners to treat concealed weapons and openly carried weapons as if they are the same thing unless you are willing to take the gamble that business owners will not post to stop open carry. Instead, you can avoid the risk by providing two signs for business owners - one prohibiting open carry and one prohibiting concealed carry.
Section 6 adds a few things to be taught in the concealed weapon permit class.
Section 7 provides for churches that use government buildings to be treated as churches, not government buildings, for the provision of gun laws.
Section 8 is a horrible screw up. After the police and military forces confiscated firearms from the people during and after Hurricane Katrina, GrassRoots GunRights pushed, and got enacted into law, legislation that denied government forces the power to confiscate firearms or ammunition unless incident to an arrest. H. 3094 repeals this law so that government forces are no longer denied the power to confiscate firearms. Instead, H. 3094 replaces the old law with a new one. The new law allows a government body to issue a permit for an organized event on public property with the stipulation that open carry is not allowed. There are no standards set to determine whether open carry should or should not be allowed. This legislation might actually require the organizer of an event to post signs saying whether open carry is allowed or not allowed at all such events whether permitted or not. Unfortunately, this legislation is so poorly drafted that one can not know whether the requirement to post signs telling whether open carry is allowed or not allowed at an organized event is applicable to events without a permit. There are no provisions in the law regarding the posting of such signs. This section prohibits the confiscation of firearms and ammunition unless incident to an arrest for violating this section of the law. It gives NO PROTECTION for the types of confiscation of firearms as happened after Hurricane Katrina. It is going to require a lot of money spent on attorneys to finally determine what this legislation actually means. This is a big loss for gun owners.
Section 9 is worthless platitudes. There are no penalties prescribed for violating anything in Section 9. So, if any government agents violate Section 9 and harm a SC resident, there are no penalties for the government agent who violated the law and no relief for the SC resident who was harmed. Worthless.
Section 10 deals with transmitting court proceedings to SLED so as to better enforce firearm prohibitions.
Section 11 removes the requirement that government agents must be “carrying out the duties of their office” to be granted special carry privileges. Now, government agents will be allowed to carry concealable weapons anywhere within the State whether they are working or playing. Why should government agents not on the job be allowed to carry where the rest of us can not carry? What happened to all men are created equal?
Section 12 removes the concealed weapon permit fee. It also removes the cap of $50 for a SLED provided concealed weapon permit class.
Section 13 says that if anything in H. 3094 is found to be contrary to law, then the rest of H. 3094 is still to be enforced. It is called severability. Otherwise, the entire bill could be negated.
Section 14 says it becomes effective in 90 days after the governor signs it.