South Carolina’s gun laws are strict and can be very confusing. However, violations of gun laws can lead to serious charges and penalties, so understanding the law is important.
Permits are not required for residents to purchase and own handguns, rifles, or shotguns in the state of South Carolina. Non-residents of South Carolina may purchase shotguns or rifles in the state, but are not allowed to purchase handguns. South Carolina does not require firearms to be registered.
Concealed Weapons Permit
Permits are only required of those seeking to carry a concealed handgun. You must be over the age of 21 and be a resident of South Carolina, or be a non-resident who owns property in the state. Licenses are valid for five years.
To apply for a concealed weapons permit, you must:
Provide proof of residency and gun training;
Provide your fingerprints and a photograph of your face;
Take an eye exam proving you have at least 20/40 vision; and
Pay a $50 licensing fee.
Where Can I Walk Around With My Concealed Weapon Once Licensed?
A concealed weapons permit holder can carry their gun, as long as it is concealed, everywhere except the following places:
Any kind of school, including public, private, preschools, daycare, colleges, or any college athletic event;
Any courthouse or courtroom;
Any place of religious worship, unless given permission;
Any kind of state or federal government building, office, or facility, including police stations;
Any restaurant that serves alcohol for on-premises consumption, unless you don’t consume any alcohol;
Any business or establishment that posts a “No Concealed Weapons Allowed” sign;
Homes, apartments or other dwellings without the permission of the resident.
If you have a concealed weapon on you and you realize you are not allowed to bring it with you into one of the above-listed places, you can always leave it in a closed glove compartment, closed console, or in the closed trunk of your vehicle. You may also carry your concealed weapon from your vehicle into a hotel room.
Unlawful Carry of a Handgun
One of the most common gun-related offenses in South Carolina can arise when you lawfully own and possess a firearm, however, you have not stored it properly. The law allows you to carry a concealed handgun in a closed console, closed glove compartment, closed trunk, or another type of closed and secured container stored in the "luggage compartment" of a vehicle. You are never allowed to simply have a gun under your seat or anywhere else in a vehicle.
If an officer pulls you over and asks if you have any handguns and you admit to having one under the seat, in your pocket, or otherwise stored improperly, you can be arrested and charged with unlawful carry. This is a misdemeanor offense and a conviction can mean up to one year in prison and a $1,000 fine. It is important to seek assistance from a South Carolina defense lawyer if you have been accused of unlawful carry.
Who is Prohibited from Possessing a Firearm and Ammunition?
You are prohibited from possessing a firearm and ammunition if you:
Have been convicted of a felony, a violent crime, a domestic violence crime, or are under a restraining order in family court;
Are a drug addict, an illegal alien, an alien under a non-immigrant visa, a dishonorably discharged veteran, or a fugitive from justice;
Are awaiting trial on felony charges; or
Are under the age of 21.
Everyone is prohibited from possessing automatic weapons and machine guns, including sawed-off shotguns and rifles. Automatic weapons kept for display or as relics must be considered inoperable and not usable and must be registered with the State Law Enforcement Division.
If You are Facing Gun Charges in the Columbia Area, Contact a Criminal Defense Attorney Today
If you are facing gun charges in the Columbia area, contact an experienced criminal defense attorney who will make sure your rights were not violated. The Law Offices of Lori S. Murray has developed a number of different strategies in gun charge cases and can help you reach the best result based on the facts of your case. Please call our office today at 803-779-4472 or schedule a consultation online.