Can I Carry – How to Avoid an Unlawful Carry Charge in South Carolina
The Second Amendment to the United States Constitution protects our right to bear arms. The South Carolina Constitution reiterates the same language of the Second Amendment in Article I, Section 20. This language seems fairly straight forward after an initial reading, but numerous State and Federal laws that are currently on the books do limit when and how people can have firearms in their possession. This article will provide a brief overview of the situations that are considered to be unlawful carrying or possession of a firearm in South Carolina, and this article will address the most recent changes to the concealed carry laws.
South Carolina is a relatively pro-second Amendment State, but there are certain situations that constitute the unlawful possession of a firearm. In order to legally possess a firearm in South Carolina, the individual must not have any felony convictions or convictions for domestic violence. A person that is legally allowed to own a firearm may transport it to and from their residence and vehicle as well as place of employment without the need for a concealed weapons permit (CWP). Make sure that the employer has given you permission to have the firearm on the property prior to entering the building. Furthermore, when transporting the firearm without a concealed weapons permit, make sure it is located 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. This is where most people run into issues while transporting a gun. They will put the gun under a seat, in a bag, or have it open in the cabin of the vehicle, which are considered unlawful methods of carrying the firearm.
Most situations regarding unlawful possession of a firearm are treated as a misdemeanor and carry up to a one year prison sentence. If the firearm is stolen, this can result in felony charges that carry up to five years in prison. It is important to note that you can also be charged with unlawful possession if you have a gun on or about your person while you are under the influence of drugs or alcohol.
There are some changes coming to South Carolina in regard to how a person may carry a firearm. Typically, open carry, or carrying a firearm that is visible, is considered illegal in South Carolina. In May 2021, Governor McMaster signed a bill into law that allows individuals that have a CWP to openly carry firearms in public. The new law allows private business to limit permit holders from openly carrying on their property, and this is accomplished through legally posted signs. The law also allows for the temporary suspension of legal open carry in the event of a protest or other organized event. The new law will go into effect starting August 16, 2021.