COLUMBIA — A state Senate panel today unanimously cleared a bill that would allow South Carolinians to keep legally-acquired firearms and ammunition regardless of any gun-control steps the U.S. Congress might take.

The bill by Sen. Tom Corbin, R-Travelers Rest, provides for the firearms for the state’s “unorganized militia,” which is mentioned in a section of state law dating back to 1881 that deals with the composition of the state militia. Corbin proposes that any able-bodied citizen over 17 years old who can legally purchase a firearm be included in the unorganized militia.

Under the legislation, militia members then would be allowed to keep all guns, ammunition and gun accessories that were legally acquired by Dec. 31, 2012, regardless of whether Congress passes a measure requiring certain classes of guns or ammunition to be turned in.

The bill passed the same a day a separate Senate panel passed a proposal that would allow people with concealed weapons permits to carry firearms into bars, restaurants and other establishments that serve alcohol so long as the carriers don’t drink.

Read more in upcoming editions of The Post and Courier.

Reach Stephen Largen at 864-641-8172 and follow him on Twitter @stephenlargen.