- Associated Press - Tuesday, March 2, 2021

COLUMBIA, S.C. (AP) - A bill that would allow people to carry guns without concealing them in South Carolina is heading to the House floor.

The House Judiciary Committee approved so-called open carry of weapons for people who already have a concealed-weapons permit by a 16-8 vote Tuesday.

South Carolina is one of only five states without open carry, joining atypical partners such as California, Florida, Illinois and New York.

The committee ignored amendments by Democrats that would remove the ban on weapons at the Statehouse and would refine rules on weapons at public events like festivals.

The bill is enthusiastically backed by many Republicans and conservatives, who said it makes sense to let people carry the weapons they can already have in a visible holster. Laws against pointing a gun at someone or threating someone with a gun without a legal reason would remain on the books.

Some law enforcement leaders aren’t as happy with the bill, saying they feared more gun violence and domestic killings in a state that is often among the worst in the country. They said open carry could make fights escalate into shootings more quickly and make it hard for officers to sort out who is committing a crime and who has not if more people are armed.

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