- Associated Press - Wednesday, May 3, 2017

COLUMBIA, S.C. (AP) - More out-of-state gun owners with concealed weapon permits could legally carry their handgun in South Carolina under a bill approved Wednesday by the House.

The House voted 85-23 on legislation recognizing permits issued by any state that likewise recognizes South Carolina’s.

The state already has reciprocity with 23 states, including neighboring North Carolina and Georgia.

Current law directs state law enforcement to sign agreements with states that require applicants to pass a gun safety and training course similar to South Carolina’s, as well as pass a criminal background check.

The amended bill would delete those prerequisites, letting adult permit-holders from up to 16 additional states legally carry while visiting South Carolina - provided that six of those first recognize South Carolinians’ CWPs. Ten states don’t honor other permits period.

Rep. Alan Clemmons’ bill initially called for “straight-up recognition,” meaning South Carolina would honor all states’ permits.

“This takes us closer to the Second Amendment standard,” said Clemmons, R-Myrtle Beach, noting the NRA is pushing similar legislation nationwide.

But Rep. Eddie Tallon, a retired state law enforcement officer, argued that’s not fair.

While preparing to travel with the lieutenant governor’s security detail in the early 1980s, he said, New York authorities informed him he’d be arrested if caught in their state carrying his weapon.

“It’s not right for us to allow people to come into our state and carry with a CWP when they won’t allow” South Carolinians to do so, said Tallon, R-Spartanburg.

Clemmons tried unsuccessfully to kill Tallon’s amendment, which passed 67-37.

Clemmons said he’s disappointed.

Gun owners with permits have “jumped through the hoops” of whatever their states require for concealed carry. “We shouldn’t disqualify people based on their government’s refusal” to recognize South Carolina’s permits, he said.

Despite the overwhelming House support, the amended bill has virtually no chance of passing this year. The regular legislative session ends next week.

Earlier this year, the House passed a bill allowing any adult who can legally own a handgun to openly carry it in South Carolina, negating the need for a permit. But the bill kept the CWP process in place for South Carolinians who want a permit for reciprocity purposes.

Similar bills have repeatedly died in the Senate, partly due to objection from law enforcement.

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