Via Greenville Online:
Law enforcement officials and anti-violence activists are blasting a state proposal that would allow South Carolinians to carry guns — concealed or openly — without a permit or any training, saying it would endanger police and the general public.
“It would create opportunities for additional violence to occur,” said Greenville Police Chief Ken Miller.
Greenville County Sheriff Will Lewis said in an email that he supports a resolution by the South Carolina Sheriff’s Association endorsing training for anyone who wants to carry a concealed weapon and opposing changes in current law.
Supporters of the bill, meanwhile, are returning fire, claiming that so-called constitutional carry, or open carry, would cut down on crime.
“States that have put open carry into place have seen a reduction in crime,” said state Rep. Phyllis Henderson, R-Greenville. “They’ve not seen an escalation in gun violence.”
The bill, sponsored by retired Greenville police officer Rep. Mike Pitts of Laurens, recently won state House approval, 64-46, largely along party lines, with Republicans in support and Democrats opposing.
The measure is now being considered by the Senate Judiciary Committee.
The bill would allow South Carolinians to carry guns in most public places — even in large public gatherings such as downtown Greenville’s big street festivals — but not in schools, churches, federal buildings and airports.
Private businesses could post signs to prevent guns in offices and other buildings.
Lawmakers also would continue to ban guns from the Statehouse, where they work.
Miller, the Greenville police chief, noted that the measure is opposed by both the S.C. Police Chiefs Association and the S.C. Sheriff’s Association.
He said the proposal could lead to more police confrontations with people carrying guns.
“So now everybody is authorized to carry a gun, and guns tend to draw out other guns,” Miller said. “It will create opportunities for police shootings or for police officers or deputies to get hurt more.”
When guns are right at hand, simple arguments can easily escalate, resulting in tragedy, Miller said.
“Incidents can happen when one person has a disagreement with another and guns are readily available in an open fashion,” he said. “This bill raises risks in our communities, and I don’t know what it does of any public value.”