Gov. Haley Signing of Georgia Gun Reciprocity Bill, Again
NORTH AUGUSTA — For the second time this summer, Gov. Nikki Haley has made a show of signing legislation twice. Both times it played to the state’s conservative base.
In June, she traveled to an Upstate Christian school for children with disabilities to re-sign a state law that banned abortions at 20 weeks of pregnancy.
On Wednesday she traveled to North Augusta where she re-signed a concealed weapons bill. It allows South Carolina to recognize carry permits issued to residents of Georgia.
The measure became law nearly three months ago.
College of Charleston political scientist Kendra Stewart said the event at the North Augusta Municipal Center keeps Haley’s name tied to a pro-gun topic.
“I think for the first time in a while the politics of South Carolina is perhaps opening toward some gun control and so this is a pretty strong symbol of her support for (gun rights),” she said.
It also solidifies Haley’s brand for what she may want to do down the road. “It’s a good political move for whatever her next political step may be,” Stewart said, “to keep her name in the limelight.”
During the ceremony, Haley said it was important to allow law-abiding gun owners to move freely between Georgia and South Carolina, especially if they’ve passed a background check and taken classes to learn gun safety.
However, those seeking a license in Georgia do face a less restrictive hurdle than South Carolina’s law requires and must only pass a background check and pay a fee to get their concealed carry permit.
Jerry W. Henry, executive director of the gun-rights group Georgia Carry, said the organization encourages gun owners to get safety training but that the training is not a state requirement.
“I think in some cases Georgia is stricter than South Carolina,” Haley said when asked about the lack of required training in the neighboring state. “But what we did make sure was there are background checks, they do have to go through classes on how they handle a gun, the responsibility of when they can carry a gun and how they handle that accordingly.”
South Carolina requires those wanting a concealed weapons permit to pass a background check, and pass training requirements that include a written and shooting test, and pay a fee.
State Rep. Bill Hixon, R-North Augusta, said he’s worked for five years to get a gun reciprocity bill passed because it’s the No. 1 issue his constituents bring to him. Hixon sponsored the bill, which Haley originally signed June 3.
“I’ve been into Augusta (Georgia) twice today,” he said of area residents’ necessity to cross the state border on a day-to-day basis. “And I’ll probably back over there again today.”
Haley said she hopes enacting the law will encourage Georgia residents to visit South Carolina, buy second homes and not force them to lock their guns up for fear of violating the law.
“No one wants to break the law,” she said. “So if they’ve gotten their CWP in Georgia, we want them to be able to go to the beach in South Carolina and take (their gun) and not worry about anything happening.”