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Columbia, SC (WLTX) -- A proposed senate bill could clear the way for concealed weapons permit holders to carry their guns inside businesses that sell alcohol.

A senate subcommittee passed a bill Wednesday morning.

The bill would also allow establishments to opt out of allowing the permitted weapons inside by warning patrons with signs.

Lawmakers say it is a way to give people back some of their rights.

"Our people want it. Clearly our folks with concealed weapons permits are the cream of the crop, if you will. They're safe, they've been trained. They have a desire to maintain that safety, and for us to restrict their movements I don't think is fair to anybody involved," said Senator Sean Bennett, aDorchester County Republican.

Senators on the panel said they had received hundreds of emails and calls about the legislation, overwhelmingly in support of its passage.

Under the bill it is illegal for someone to drink alcohol while carrying a guninside the establishment.

Some supporters of the bill disliked that aspect, but lawmakers said allowing the consumption of alcohol could hurt the bill's chance for passage.

The bill will still have to clear a full judiciary committee before heading to the senate floor.

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