COLUMBIA, S.C. (WCIV) – A bill prefiled in the South Carolina state Senate would exempt any firearm, accessory or ammunition manufactured and kept in the state from federal regulations.
The bill was filed by Sen. Lee Bright (R-Spartanburg) on Dec. 13, one day before the mass shooting at an elementary school in Newtown, Conn, where a gunman killed 20 children and six adults.
The bill, named the "South Carolina Firearms Freedom Act," cites the 9th and 10th Amendments to establish that the manufacture of firearms and ammunition is not expressly written into the U.S. Constitution, which means regulation falls to the states.
The bill defines accessories to firearms as anything to provide usefulness in using the weapon, including "telescopic and laser sights, magazines, flash or round suppressors, folding or aftermarket stocks, speedloaders, ammunition carriers, and lights for target illumination."
The bill also notes that South Carolina's constitution states that the government cannot interfere with the rights of citizens to keep and bear arms.
The bill, it notes, does not apply to firearms that cannot be carried or used by one person, that have a bore diameter greater than 1.5 inches, a firearm that fires multiple projectiles by pulling the trigger, or one that uses ammunition that explodes after leaving the weapon.
Weapons made in South Carolina, the bill notes, must be stamped with the words "Made in South Carolina."
The bill opens the door for a wide array of weapons because FN Manufacturing, a precision manufacturing company based out of Columbia, manufactures gun barrels, including a pair of .50-caliber machine guns, NATO assault rifles, and assault/sniper rifles used by U.S. Special Forces. FN Manufacturing's MK 13 Mod 0 grenade launcher would not be covered under Bright's bill.
Bright has not responded to requests for comment.
A bill of the same name had been filed with the state Senate in 2009. Bright, along with Sens. Bryant, Mulvaney, Davis, Shoopman, McConnell and Martin, were cosigners on that bill.
Eight other states have already approved similar proposals, and dozens of others are considering them. Legislation approved in Montana is being challenged in federal court. State lawmakers reconvene in Columbia Jan. 8.