What are the gun laws in SC?
It’s a broad topic, but below we will take a look at the criminal offenses that are contained in SC gun laws, including:
- Unlawful carry of a handgun,
- Possession of a stolen handgun,
- Possession or transportation of a machine gun or sawed-off shotgun or rifle,
- Pointing and presenting a firearm,
- Possession of a firearm during the commission of a violent crime, and
- Felon in possession of a handgun.
This isn’t a comprehensive list, and there are many other firearms offenses in SC that we won’t cover here. These are the most commonly charged firearms violations in Horry County and SC, however.
First, let’s look at the most commonly charged firearms offense under SC gun laws – unlawful carrying of a handgun.
Edit: SC’s “Open Carry with Training Act” amended SC’s gun laws effective August 15, 2021, and the changes include the right to open carry for concealed weapon permit (CWP) holders.
Gun Laws in SC – Unlawful Carry
As a starting point, it is illegal for anyone to carry a handgun in SC, whether it is concealed or not. There are plenty of exceptions to the law, though – if you fall within one of these exceptions, you can carry a handgun legally.
SC Code Section 16-23-20 lists the exceptions which include:
- Law enforcement officers,
- Members of the Armed Forces while on duty,
- Organizations authorized by the state or federal government to purchase or receive firearms, shooting clubs, or collecting clubs while at or going to target practice, shows, or exhibits,
- Licensed hunters or fisherman who are hunting, fishing, or traveling to the place where they will hunt or fish,
- Firearm manufacturers, dealers, or repair shops,
- Guards who are authorized by law to possess a handgun,
- Members of military or civil organizations who are on parade or traveling to organizational meetings,
- Carrying an unloaded and packaged handgun from the place where you bought it or while moving your place of residence or business,
- Prison guards,
- A person who is at a firearms-related business unless the business posts a sign prohibiting non-CWP owners from carrying,
- Persons with a valid concealed weapon permit (CWP), and
- Persons in their home, vehicle, or place of business.
Can I Carry a Handgun on My Own Property in SC?
You can carry a handgun without a permit on your own property, and it does not matter if it is open carry or concealed. You can carry a handgun on someone else’s property if you have the owner’s permission.
You can also carry a handgun without a permit at your own place of business, or at someone else’s business if you have a CWP and the owner’s permission.
Can I Carry a Handgun in My Car in SC?
You can carry a handgun in SC in your vehicle without a permit if it is secured in a:
- Closed glove compartment,
- Closed console,
- Closed trunk, or
- Closed container that is secured and located in the luggage compartment.
If you have a concealed weapon permit, you can also secure a handgun under a seat or in any storage compartment whether it is open or closed.
Can I Carry a Handgun on My Motorcycle in SC?
You can also carry a handgun without a permit on your motorcycle if the gun is secured in a closed saddlebag or another container that is attached to the motorcycle.
Is Open Carry Legal In SC?
SC is not an open-carry state – if you do not have a CWP, you cannot carry a handgun unless you fall within one of the exceptions above. Even if you do have a CWP, your handgun must be concealed, and you cannot open carry.
What are the Penalties for Unlawful Carry in SC?
Unlawful carry of a handgun in SC is a misdemeanor offense that is punishable by up to one year in prison.
Gun Laws in SC – Machine Guns, Sawed-Off Shotguns
It is also a crime in SC to possess, transport, store, or keep a machine gun, military firearm, sawed-off shotgun, or sawed-off rifle, with some exceptions including:
- Military organizations authorized by law to purchase or receive machine guns, military firearms, sawed-off shotguns, or sawed-off rifles,
- Manufacturers of machine guns or military firearms who are licensed by the federal government,
- Law enforcement when required in the course of their duties,
- Others who are licensed by the Treasury Department, ATF, or other federal agencies,
- Machine guns, sawed-off rifles, or sawed-off shotguns displayed as “relics” if they are “rendered harmless not usable,” and
- Antique firearms.
Violations of SC gun laws related to machine guns, sawed-off shotguns, or sawed-off rifles carry up to ten years in prison.
There are many other firearms offenses found in SC gun laws – let’s look at a few of the more common criminal offenses below.
Other Gun Laws in SC – Miscellaneous Offenses
What else is prohibited by the gun laws in SC? Although we aren’t going to list all offenses here, some of the more common gun charges include possession of stolen handguns, pointing and presenting, possessing a firearm or concealing a weapon on school property, firing into a dwelling, carrying a firearm into a business that serves alcohol, possession of a firearm during the commission of a violent crime, and possessing a firearm if you have been convicted of a violent crime.
Stolen Handguns and Unlawful Delivery or Sale
It is a felony punishable by up to five years to sell or give a handgun to any person who:
- Has been convicted of a crime of violence,
- Is a fugitive from justice,
- Is a habitual drunkard or drug addict,
- Has been adjudicated mentally incompetent,
- Is a member of a subversive organization,
- Is under the age of eighteen (excepting parents or adult firearms instructors), or
- Who has been judged unfit to carry or possess a firearm by a circuit court.
It is also a felony punishable by up to five years for anyone who fits the criteria above to possess a handgun.
Pointing and Presenting a Firearm
It is a felony that carries up to five years in prison to “present or point at another person a loaded or unloaded firearm.” This applies to shotguns, rifles, and other types of firearms as well as handguns.
Possession of a Firearm on School Property
It is a crime in SC “to possess a firearm of any kind 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, without the express permission of the authorities in charge of the premises or property.”
It is also a separate crime to “display, brandish, or threaten others with a firearm on school property – either offense is a felony punishable by up to five years in prison.
Carrying a Weapon on School Property
It is also a felony punishable by up to five years to carry a concealed weapon on elementary or secondary school property, including “a knife, with a blade over two inches long, a blackjack, a metal pipe or pole, firearms, or any other type of weapon, device, or object which may be used to inflict bodily injury or death.”
Discharging Firearms into a Dwelling
It is a felony punishable by up to ten years to shoot at or into a home or building that is occupied or to shoot at or into any vehicle, boat, or other conveyance that is occupied.
Carrying a Firearm into a Business that Sells Alcohol
In addition to the penalties for violation of the firearms offenses listed above, there is a separate offense for unlawfully carrying a firearm “into a business which sells alcoholic liquor, beer, or wine for consumption on the premises.”
This is a misdemeanor that carries up to an additional two years if convicted.
Possession of a Firearm During Commission of a Violent Crime
If someone possesses or displays a firearm or knife while committing a violent crime (as defined in SC Code Section 16-1-60), there is a mandatory five-year sentence in addition to the punishment for the underlying crime.
Felon in Possession of a Firearm
It is a felony punishable by up to five years in prison to possess any type of firearm in SC if you have been convicted of a violent offense (as defined in SC Code Section 16-1-60).
Criminal Defense and Gun Rights Attorneys in Myrtle Beach, SC
The Myrtle Beach criminal defense lawyers at Coastal Law defend our clients against all types of criminal accusations, including firearms offenses.
If you have been arrested and charged with a crime in the Myrtle Beach, SC area, call Coastal Law now at (843) 488-5000 or send us an email to set up a free consultation to discuss your case.