Harry Naylor drew loud applause when he said only criminals would have guns if they are made illegal — and Naylor puts government and criminals in the same category.

Judging by that applause, Naylor was speaking for nearly everyone at Monday’s public hearing on a S.C. Senate bill titled the Constitutional Carry Act. About 100 people attended.

Sen. Lee Bright, R-Spartanburg, smiled to hear it. Bright, the bill’s sponsor, suggested taking the issue for public hearings around the state before senators vote.

The hearing in North Charleston was one of four being held by a Senate Judiciary subcommittee on the proposed law. The bill would allow people with a concealed weapon permit to carry a gun into businesses, including those that serve alcohol, unless a sign is posted to prohibit it.

One after another, people rose to defend the Second Amendment right to bear arms and their right to protect themselves and their family, or to decry the government infringing on that right.

Charleston Police Chief Greg Mullen quieted the room when he cautioned the subcommittee senators that the law as proposed looks at only one side of the issue, and could jeopardize police on the streets. The law, he said, is an open invitation for “bad guys” to carry guns with them, so long as they have not yet been convicted of a crime.

Mullen drew a respectful applause.

More than 187,000 people in the state currently hold a concealed weapons carry permit, according to the State Law Enforcement Division.

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