Alan Greenblatt is a GOVERNING correspondent.E-mail: firstname.lastname@example.org
South Carolina's legislature will be debating a bill that would allow lawmakers to carry concealed weapons on capitol property. The State reports:
The bill's sponsor Rep. Keith Kelly, R-Spartanburg, filed the bill late in the session last year after he learned 12 other categories of public servants -- but not lawmakers -- are allowed to carry firearms into public buildings while doing business. Those public servants are Supreme Court justices and other judges, along with solicitors and workers' compensation commissioners.
"I looked at that statute and wondered why members of the General Assembly can't carry by virtue of holding office," Kelly said. "I'm just saying add the 170 members. If the good people have put you in this position, then you ought to be able to carry."
Despite speculation that this could signal the return of duels -- and fears of escalating violence occasioned by the memory of a fairly recent incident involving a representative grabbing a colleague by his tie, ripping his shirt and then accidentally hitting another legislator who was trying to break them up -- Kelly says that lawmakers would not be likely to bring their guns into the chamber itself.
"I don't think for a minute that (lawmakers) would bring them into a chamber," Kelly told The State. "I think we have more respect for the institution than that."
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