Republican state representatives in South Carolina introduced a bill on Thursday that would convene the state’s legislature to consider secession from the U.S. government in the event that federal officials began seizing lawfully-purchased firearms in the state.
The bill summary for H 5217, which was introduced by state Reps. Mike Pitts (R-District 14), Jonathan Hill (R-District 8), and Ashley Trantham (R-District 28), reads, “A bill to amend the code of laws of South Carolina, 1976, by adding Article 11 to Chapter 31, Title 23 so as to provide that the General Assembly shall convene to consider whether to secede from the United States based upon the federal government’s unconstitutional violation of the Second Amendment to the United States Constitution if the federal government confiscates legally purchased firearms in this state.”
The introduction of the bill comes amid a nationwide debate over school security and gun laws that was sparked by the deadly February 14 mass school shooting at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School in Parkland, Fla. that left 17 dead and 17 wounded.
Gun control activists have called for new restrictions on firearms, such as bans or age limits on tactical rifles and expanded background checks, while supporters of gun rights have advocated for the elimination of gun-free zones in schools through measures including allowing some teachers or faculty members to carry firearms. In a New York Times op ed, former Supreme Court Justice John Paul Stevens said that he believes that the Second Amendment to the U.S. Constitution should be repealed, calling the amendment protecting gun rights a “relic of the 18th century.”
Bill author Rep. Mike Pitts said that it was the increasing chorus of demands for new gun restrictions that inspired him to pen the legislation and not former Justice John Paul Stevens’ comments on the Second Amendment.
Rep. Pitts, who claims that he is not “promoting secession,” said according to Fox News, “Without a Bill of Rights, our nation is not what it is. I see a lot of stuff where people even talk about totally repealing the Second Amendment, which separates us from the entire rest of the world.”
According to The Hill, the bill was assigned on Thursday to the House Judiciary Committee.
The measure is reportedly being considered primarily symbolic and unlikely to pass during this session, as it would have to gain swift traction in order to be transferred to the state’s Senate by the session’s April 10 deadline. As of press time, with that deadline fast approaching, the bill has yet to be introduced in the Senate.