South Carolina is not an open-carry state, meaning it is a crime to walk around and openly carry a gun or firearm. In May 2021, South Carolina’s governor signed into law legislation that will allow a concealed weapons permit holder to carry their firearm openly while in public. The Open Carry with Training Act will take effect on August 16, 2021. The new law will only allow South Carolina residents that have had training and have received a concealed weapons permits to carry their firearms openly.
Who Can Own A Firearm in South Carolina?
Federal law prohibits those convicted of a felony or some domestic violence misdemeanors from owning a gun or firearm. In South Carolina, a law adopted in 2010 made it unlawful for those convicted of violent crimes to own a firearm. Undocumented immigrants are also prohibited from the purchase, sale, lease, rental, barter, exchange, or possession of a firearm. Finally, a 2013 South Carolina law made it unlawful for those with certain mental health histories to possess a firearm; however, there is an established procedure for regaining gun eligibility in this case.
Do I Need a Permit?
There is no permit required to own a handgun, rifle, or shotgun in South Carolina. However, you must acquire a Concealed Weapon Permit in order to carry a concealed weapon.
Common Gun Crimes in South Carolina
In South Carolina, the most common gun crimes are unlawful carrying of a pistol and possession of a weapon during the commission of a violent crime.
An unlawful carry charge most often happens when the defendant is driving. If you are legally allowed to own a firearm but do not have a CWP, the firearm must be placed in a closed glove box, console, or in the trunk. The law is very specific when it comes to where the firearm is placed. If it is found in a purse, under the seat, or on the seat, you will be charged. With a CWP, you are permitted to carry the firearm in a vehicle on or about your person.
The first step and best way to protect yourself from being charged with unlawful carry is acquiring your CWP through the South Carolina State Law Enforcement Division (SLED). During CWP training, the instructors will go over the proper etiquette for discussing concealed weapons in your vehicle with officers. It is extremely important to stick to those procedures, as it could be the difference between a citation or arrest and getting let go.
Secondly, it is important to know that your SC CWP is not effective in every other state. It is crucial to understand what states will honor your SC CWP. Even with an SC CWP, you must adhere to the other states’ gun laws. If you do not, you could end up cited or worse, arrested.
Penalties for Gun Charges in South Carolina
Depending on the circumstances, South Carolina gun charges may be prosecuted as either felonies or misdemeanors. Felony gun convictions are punishable by more than one year in prison; misdemeanors are generally punished by up to one year of prison, probation or parole, or fines/other penalties.
Contact an Attorney
Gun charges are serious in South Carolina, and the penalties have the potential to be severe. It is important that you understand the laws surrounding permits, concealed carry, and carrying a firearm in your vehicle.
If you have been charged with unlawful carrying of a firearm, contact the South Carolina office of SeiferFlatow as soon as possible by visiting our website or giving us a call at 803-639-8719.