| Sheriff Jay Koon |

Gov. McMaster signed our state’s Open Carry Act into law in May. It goes into effect Sunday, Aug. 15. That’s when several things related to where someone can carry a weapon will take effect.

First of all, here’s the way I’ve been bottom-lining the new law when I talk to citizens – it allows CWP holders to openly carry a firearm.

As the name implies, the new law redefines “concealable weapon” to include open carry for those who hold a valid permit. However, open or concealed carry must be done in accordance with South Carolina’s CWP law and other firearm statutes.

The law defines a concealable weapon as a firearm less than 12 inches long that may be carried openly on one’s person or in a manner that is hidden from public view in normal wear of clothing except when needed for self-defense, defense of others, and the protection of real or personal property.

The new law is notable because it allows a permit holder to visibly carry a handgun. You will likely see someone walking down the street or somewhere else in your community with a gun in a hip holster.

Under usual circumstances, we will not be stopping such individuals and asking to see their permits. Here’s when we will be asking for documentation, when we have reasonable, articulable and particularized suspicion that person is involved in criminal activity. Otherwise, we will not detain or arrest a person openly carrying.

It’s worth noting governing bodies can temporarily restrict open carry on public property at events such as a protest, rally, fair, parade or festival. An employer can also restrict employees from carrying at work.

There will be some education as part of this new law taking effect. We’ve been training on this and making deputies aware of how the new law will affect their engagement with community members. Working together and having respectful conversations will ensure a smooth transition for all of us.