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Constitutional Carry: 2024 Changes to SC Gun Laws – You Can Now Carry a Handgun Without a Permit in SC

by | Mar 17, 2024 | Gun Laws

On March 7, 2024, SC’s governor signed H. 3594 into law, a bill that some are calling a “constitutional carry” law that lifts many of our state’s previous restrictions on carrying firearms whether openly or concealed. 

Where can you carry a gun in SC now, and where is it prohibited? Below, we will discuss the changes made in the new law, including:

  • Who the new gun laws apply to, 
  • Where you can carry a gun in South Carolina, 
  • Where you cannot carry a gun in South Carolina, and 
  • Other changes to SC gun laws in the 2004 constitutional carry bill. 

What is SC’s New “Constitutional Carry” Law? 

SC’s constitutional carry bill repealed certain SC gun laws that made it a crime to carry a concealed firearm without a permit, allowing almost anyone to carry a firearm almost anywhere in the state. 

There are exceptions that we will discuss below, but the bottom line is, if you were eligible to get a concealed weapon permit (CWP) before, you don’t need to get one now and can carry a firearm in public whether it is concealed or not. 

What Laws Were Repealed? 

Section 15 of H. 3594 repeals sections 16-23-460, 23-31-225, and 23-31-230 of the S.C. Code. 

SC Code § 16-23-460 made it a crime for a person to carry “a deadly weapon usually used for the infliction of personal injury concealed about his person” unless they have a concealed weapon permit (CWP), or they are a law enforcement officer. 

It is now legal for anyone not otherwise prohibited to carry a deadly weapon concealed about their person without a permit. 

SC Code § 23-31-225 made it a crime for a person with a CWP to carry a firearm into someone else’s home without their permission. 

The new law contains a provision that makes it a crime for anyone with or without a CWP to carry a firearm into someone else’s home without their permission. 

SC Code § 23-31-230 expressly authorized anyone not otherwise prohibited to carry a firearm to and from their vehicle. 

Under the new law, anyone not otherwise prohibited can carry a firearm in any public place, including to and from their vehicle.   

Are There Places You Cannot Carry a Gun Under the SC Constitutional Carry Law? 

There are still places where most people are prohibited from carrying a gun, including:

  • Police stations, jails, and prisons,
  • Courthouses,
  • Polling places,
  • Offices or meeting places of governing bodies of counties, school districts, municipalities, or special purpose districts,
  • Daycares and preschool facilities,
  • Hospitals, medical clinics, doctor’s offices, or other facilities where medical services or procedures are performed, and
  • Federal facilities.

There are exceptions for some locations that apply to law enforcement officers, prison guards, solicitors, public defenders, and judges. 

Where Can You Carry Your Gun in Your Car? 

Under the old SC gun laws, you could carry a firearm in your car, but it had to be in a closed glovebox, center console, or trunk. 

Under the new constitutional carry law, you can carry a firearm anywhere in your vehicle including on your person, in an open or closed container, under the seat, or on the dashboard. 

If you are “on any premises or property owned, operated, or controlled by a private or public school, college, university, technical college, other post-secondary institution, or in any publicly owned building,” however, the firearm must be “secured in a closed glove compartment, closed console, closed trunk, or in a closed container secured by an integral fastener and transported in the luggage compartment of the vehicle.” 

Are Police Going to Harass Me if They See I am Carrying a Gun? 

Will police stop and search you if they see you carrying a firearm, openly or concealed? 

The constitutional carry law includes a provision that says police cannot search, detain, or arrest a person because they saw the person openly carrying a firearm. That doesn’t mean they won’t do it, though – there are plenty of videos on YouTube showing police “shaking down” people and harassing them for lawfully openly carrying a firearm. 

Police can only legally stop, search, detain, or arrest a person when there is a “particularized and objective basis for suspecting the particular person stopped of criminal activity.” 

Some Firearm Offenses Can Now be Expunged

SC Code § 22-5-910 is amended to allow expungement for “a first offense for unlawful possession of a firearm or weapon carrying a penalty of not more than one year or a fine of one thousand dollars, or both.” 

If someone has already been convicted for unlawful possession of a handgun before the constitutional carry law was passed, they can apply for an expungement of the conviction, but they must apply before March 7, 2029. 

Why Would Anyone Get a Concealed Weapon Permit (CWP) in SC Now? 

You no longer need a CWP to carry a gun in South Carolina. So why would you get one? 

  • You no longer have to pay for the required self-defense class, 
  • You will learn or get a refresher course on gun safety, and
  • You will have a reciprocal concealed carry permit in 35 other states including North Carolina. 

Questions About SC’s Constitutional Carry Law? 

The Myrtle Beach gun rights lawyers at Coastal Law defend our clients against all types of criminal accusations, including firearms offenses, and we are working to protect the Second Amendment rights of South Carolinians. 

If you have been arrested and charged with a crime in the Myrtle Beach, SC area, you can call Coastal Law at (843) 488-5000 or send us an email to set up a free consultation to discuss your case.

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