(The Center Square) — The South Carolina House Republicans plan to introduce a clean “Constitutional Carry” measure after declining to proceed with an amended version the state Senate passed, exposing a rift within Republican ranks over one of the party’s top priorities.
The state House rejected H.3594, the South Carolina Constitutional Carry/Second Amendment Preservation Act of 2023, which the Senate passed last week. However, the head of a pro-gun rights group sent a letter to House members saying the Senate’s amended version violates the Second Amendment.
“While I respect the intentions and efforts of the Senate, the House Republican Caucus remains united in our decision to non-concur with the Senate’s changes,” House Majority Leader Davey Hiottt, R-Pickens, said in a statement on X, formerly Twitter. “We will return a clean version of the Constitutional Carry – Second Amendment Preservation Act to the Senate next week, the exact version that was overwhelmingly passed by the House last year.
“Our dedication to protecting the Second Amendment rights of law-abiding citizens remains steadfast,” Hiott added. “It is our firm belief that this bill, in its original form, best reflects the fundamental rights and freedoms of our constituents.”
The measure also makes it illegal for anyone “convicted of a crime punishable by a maximum term of imprisonment of more than one year to possess a firearm or ammunition within” South Carolina. The proposal provided some exceptions, including anyone whose conviction has been expunged, set aside or pardoned and has had their civil rights restored.
Republican Gov. Henry McMaster said the bill’s failure “keeps the ‘revolving door’ for career violent criminals wide open.’
“For over two years law enforcement and victims of crime have been begging this General Assembly to pass a bill with stricter increased penalties for illegal gun use and possession,” McMaster said in a statement on X. “This is how we keep career criminals behind bars and not out on bond shooting and killing innocent South Carolinians.
“The public is losing confidence. So am I,” the governor added.