South Carolina Gun Laws

Gun Laws in South Carolina

Like many other states, South Carolina is considered a “shall issue” state in regard to concealed weapons permits. Handguns, rifles, and shotguns do not require permits to be first obtained before purchases are made.

South Carolina LawsA Castle Doctrine has also been stipulated in the state of South Carolina to allow individuals to have firearms in their homes, motor vehicles, or places of business for legalized protection. This doctrine allows deadly force to be used on any intruder to personal property. Castle Doctrine is also named as homicide by self-defense or justifiable homicide. This kind of self-defense is only to be used under necessary precautions.

Firearms are not allowed to be carried onto public school property or any kind of private property without previous permission. South Carolina does not allow open carry; however, loaded handguns are permitted to be carried in vehicle glove compartments or center consoles.

South Carolina is bordered to the north by North Carolina, to the west and south by Georgia, and to the east by the Atlantic Ocean. It was the founding state of the Confederacy as it was the first to secede from the Union during the Civil War.

Reciprocal Carry

By statute, South Carolina will recognize another state’s license to carry if that state recognizes South Carolina’s license:

“Valid out-of-state permits to carry concealable weapons held by a resident of a reciprocal state must be honored by this State, provided, that the reciprocal state requires an applicant to successfully pass a criminal background check and a course in firearm training and safety. A resident of a reciprocal state carrying a concealable weapon in South Carolina is subject to and must abide by the laws of South Carolina regarding concealable weapons.”

South Carolina has this kind of reciprocity with other states. Beginning in 2008 these include Wyoming, West Virginia, Virginia, Tennessee, Texas, Ohio, North Carolina, Missouri, Michigan, Louisiana, Kentucky, Kansas, Florida, Arkansas, Arizona, and Alaska.

South Carolina Castle Law

The South Carolina Castle Law has been utilized by residents of the state since 2006 to defend their property from intruders. This law is based on the principle that a homeowner has the right to use any amount of force necessary, including deadly force, to protect his or her home against an intruder. The South Carolina Castle Law grants homeowners immunity from criminal prosecution for injuring or killing an intruder who unlawfully enters their home.

The purpose of this law is to protect South Carolinians from criminal acts and perpetrators on their property. It states that individuals have no duty to retreat when faced with threats in their homes and can use deadly force if they feel threatened by an intruder. In addition, the law allows individuals to defend both themselves and other family members against intruders inside a residence without fear of being arrested or charged with a crime.

Stand Your Ground

South Carolina also has a philosophy called “Stand Your Ground” through the Protection of Persons and Property Act. This act states that individuals may use deadly force to defend themselves if they feel they are being threatened and are attacked. “Stand Your Ground” only applies if an intruder enters another’s a place of business, place of dwelling, personal property, or any other place where others have rights to be. If the use of deadly force is not necessary, then the philosophy cannot be upheld.

The “Make My Day” law accompanies the “Stand Your Ground” philosophy and allows an individual to defend another by using deadly force if the other person cannot him or herself. South Carolina law states that if a violent crime can be prevented, it should.

Types of Firearms

Rifles, shotguns, and handguns are not required to be registered under South Carolina law nor are owners required to be licensed to have rifles, shotguns, or handguns. No permit is necessary to carry a shotgun or a rifle, but a permit is necessary to carry any kind of handgun.

Shotguns and rifles can be purchased from contiguous states if all federal requirements are met beforehand. The sellers of these states must have federal firearms licenses before any purchase can be made.

Certain individuals are not allowed to possess firearms because of the danger they present. These people include any individual with a previous violent crime conviction; any individual with an addiction to drugs or alcoholics; any individual who is mentally incompetent; any individual under the age of twenty-one; and any individual who the county court has deemed unfit to possess a firearm.

Those under the age of twenty-one may temporarily possess a firearm if under the supervision of a guardian or instructor. Individuals who have been evaluated by any mental institution and have had adjudication as mentally ill are seen by South Carolina to be unfit to possess firearms.

Carrying Firearms in Vehicles

South Carolina generally prohibits carrying handguns in vehicles without a permit. The exceptions are that You may transport a handgun to and from a place where You may legally possess a handgun, to or from a hunting trip, or in a vehicle, if the handgun is secured in a closed glove compartment, closed console, closed trunk or closed container secured by an integral fastener and transported in the “luggage compartment” of the vehicle.

Carry in Restaurants That Serve Alcohol

Yes, if you possess a valid concealed handgun license/permit. Places like Fridays or Chili’s unless they have a “No Gun Sign,” then You are prohibited from carrying into the establishment. This does not include a bar or the bar area of a restaurant – You are prohibited from carrying into these areas.

You are not prohibited from carrying a firearm while consuming alcohol, but You are prohibited from discharging a firearm while intoxicated.

Self-defense Laws

South Carolina has both Castle Doctrine and SYG laws. There is no duty to retreat from any place You have a legal right to be. You may use force, including deadly force, in defense of yourself or others if You reasonably believe it is necessary to prevent imminent death, SBI, the commission of a forcible felony, or to stop the unlawful & forcible entry into a dwelling, place of business, or occupied motor vehicle. People are immune from civil liability from lawsuits arising from their lawful use of force in self-defense.

Open Carry

Open carry of a handgun is illegal in South Carolina. Even those with a valid permit/license to carry a concealed firearm are prohibited from carrying openly. Open carry of long guns is permitted while hunting.

Criminal Provisions

Under South Carolina law, a license to carry a handgun is not valid in any of the following places or circumstances, whether it is issued by South Carolina, or a person is carrying pursuant to a reciprocity agreement between his or her state of license and South Carolina:

  • Upon request by an owner or occupant of a business to not carry on their property
  • A private or public school, college, university, technical college, or other post-secondary institution
  • On a bus
  • Any publicly owned building without express permission
  • Any other law enforcement office or facility
  • A detention facility, prison, or jail
  • Any place with a posted ‘no guns’ sign []
  • A courthouse or courtroom
  • Any polling place on an election day
  • An office or meeting place of a governing body of any county, public school district, municipality, or special purpose district
  • A daycare or preschool facility
  • A school or college athletic event (which is not related to firearms)
  • A church or other religious sanctuary
  • Any place prohibited by federal law
  • A hospital, medical clinic, doctor’s office, or any other facility where medical services are performed
  • Into the residence of another person without express permission to carry
  • Discharge while under the influence of alcohol


South Carolina gun laws are lenient compared to other states. If you are a resident of South Carolina and would like to purchase a firearm, it is important that you research the laws in your state thoroughly. It is vital that you understand the requirements for the ownership and operation of a firearm before purchasing one. Additionally, it is important to remember that even though South Carolina has more relaxed gun laws than some other states, there are still illegal activities related to firearms that are punishable by law.

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