Local police chiefs support open carry law

By Al Dozier

Some local law enforcement officials say they are OK with new legislation that allows the open carry of handguns without a permit.

In an interview with The Irmo News, Irmo Police Chief Bobby Dale said he is prepared to handle any problems that might arise.

“We will be more vigilant,” Dale said of the new law that would allow any adult without a felony background to carry a concealed handgun in public without a permit.

West Columbia Police Chief Marion Boyce said he has no problem with the new law. He said it’s his job to abide by the law passed by the legislature, and he intends to do just that.
Cayce Police Chief Chris Cowan expressed a similar view.

“I believe in peoples’ rights,” he said.

Cowan said his department will enforce the law as written. He said he has no problems with the changes.

Often referred to as the “constitutional carry” bill, the legislation would make obtaining a concealed weapon permit, and the training and background checks that come with it, optional. It lowers the age to carry a handgun in public from 21 to 18.

Under the previous state law enacted in 2021, people who want to openly carry handguns in South Carolina had to complete a training session and obtain a concealed weapons permit.
Gov. Henry McMaster held a celebratory event after signing the new bill into law earlier this month.

“This is a happy day. It’s a good step forward,” McMaster said.

Richland County Sheriff Leon Lott has expressed concerns about the bill.

“I support the right to carry and it was already in place with concealed weapons permit and the proper training, but this does nothing to make our communities safer; instead of getting guns off the street we just put more guns on the street,” Lott said in a public statement on the law.

Democrats have voiced strong opposition to the bill, expressing concerns that it could allow individuals to carry firearms without any required training and eliminates the background checks that come with permit renewals, which will make it easier for criminals to acquire firearms.