CHARLESTON, S.C. (WCSC) - This weekend, a new gun law goes into effect in the Palmetto State, and it allows anyone over the age of 21 with a concealed weapons permit to openly carry their firearms.
Police are now preparing for the change. Charleston Police Chief Luther Reynolds says he and his officers still have a lot of questions about how the new open carry law will work.
“It’s going to be difficult I think for our community to get use to it. I think it’s going to take time for our officers to navigate but we will do it. We always do. It’s another wrinkle,” Reynolds said.
It’s a wrinkle in his department’s fight against increased violent crime in the city of Charleston. Reynolds has been an outspoken opponent of the open carry law and other proposed versions of similar legislation suggesting that more needs to be done instead to strengthen guns laws in our state in other ways.
“At the same time we are going to open it up and have more guns out there openly and things like that, I would just hope that we can do better with the violent criminal offenders.” Reynolds said. “That’s more my focus. It’s not good people in our communities who want to protect themselves, who helped pass this legislation. We have to honor that. We have to embrace it and we have to make it work.”
Gun owners who want to openly carry will be required to apply for a CWP through SLED and complete at least eight hours of training.
However, the law states that someone who is openly carrying does not have to respond to an officer if they ask to see their permit, unless there is probable cause.
Meanwhile, others have expressed concerns about how racial profiling and other issues may play into how this law will be enforced.
“We’ve talked about race and how these things have been reported like as ‘suspicious activities’…and there’s going to be a huge impact when you combine it with all the other challenges we’re facing,” Reynolds said.
Every officer in the state is required to watch a new training video on open carry by August 13, just two days before the law takes effect. Businesses do have the ability to ban weapons inside their buildings, and Chief Reynolds said he’s already heard from some who plan to do so.
According to SLED, there were 418,828 active concealed weapons permits in the state as of Dec. 31, 2020.
Meanwhile, officers are preaching responsible gun ownership amid a 13 percent increase in car break-ins.
On Tuesday, Charleston Police arrested two juveniles who were caught stealing from some cars in a West Ashley neighborhood.
Officers said both juveniles had loaded guns hidden in their waistbands, one of them reported stolen less than a month before from the same area.
“These guns are getting in the hands of children and criminals. They usually don’t ever end up in the hands of law-abiding citizens. They take them and sell them to people who don’t need them and a gun in the hand of a juvenile is extremely dangerous,” Lt. Heath King said. “This incident with the officers on the third could have ended really badly for everyone involved, and we would never want something like that to happen.”
King is reminding the community to lock car doors and store guns in a locked area.
He also said it’s important to know your gun’s serial number if you need to report it stolen.
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