Columbia, SC (WLTX) -- Concealed weapons permit holders can now carry their weapons into restaurants and bars.
Governor Nikki Haley signed a bill making the change Tuesday morning. The provision of the law went into effect immediately afterward.
"When a criminal knows that individuals can protect themselves criminals are less likely to do things, because they know that they can be harmed. We want people to defend themselves; we've always wanted that in South Carolina. We believe in those liberties and those rights," said Haley.
She congratulated freshman Senator Sean Bennett of Dorchester County on the success of his first bill.
Some have criticized the law, expressing concerns about people drinking and carrying weapons at the same time.
"Not only is alcohol consumption not allowed, it's a zero-tolerance. It's not even a blood-alcohol content," said Bennett, defending his bill. "Guns and alcohol do not mix, that's why it's not a guns and alcohol bill."
Haley's office says the bill will also simplify the permit renewal process, getting rid of fingerprint checks and raising the renewal time to five years.
The office says it also takes out the proof of residency requirement and eliminates the 8-hour training requirement for a permit.
It also waives training requirements for those who can show they have completed military basic training or retired law enforcement officers who can show they graduated from the South Carolina Criminal Justice Academy.
Haley says South Carolina has become the 46th state to allow permit holders to carry their firearms into establishments that sell alcohol.