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South Carolina Gun Control Laws

States have the ability to craft their own gun control laws that limit the purchase and use of firearms. While the Second Amendment can protect the right to own certain arms, some weapons and accessories are illegal under South Carolina law. The state has no waiting period for prospective gun buyers but does enforce certain eligibility requirements for gun ownership.

South Carolina Gun Statutes

The chart below highlights some of South Carolina's gun control laws.

Relevant Statutes (Laws)

South Carolina Code of Laws, Title 16, Chapter 23, Sections 16-23-10 through 16-23-530
  • Unlawful carrying of handgun - Section 16-23-20
  • Sale or delivery of handgun to and possession by certain persons unlawful; stolen handguns - Section 16-23-30
  • Penalties; disposition of fines; forfeiture and disposition of handguns - Section 16-23-50
  • Unlawful transportation of machine gun, military firearm, or sawed-off shotgun or rifle within State - Section 16-23-220
  • Unlawful storing, keeping, or possessing of machine gun, military firearm, or sawed-off shotgun or rifle - Section 16-23-230
  • Penalties - Section 16-23-260
  • Possession of firearm on school property; concealed weapons - Section 16-23-420
  • Additional penalty for unlawfully carrying pistol or firearm onto premises of business selling alcoholic liquor, beer, or wine for on-premises consumption; exceptions - Section 16-23-465
  • Unlawful possession of a firearm by a person convicted of violent offense - Section 16-23-500
South Carolina Code of Laws, Title 23, Chapter 31, Sections 23-31-10 through 31-31-370

Illegal Arms

The following firearms are illegal in South Carolina:
  • Machine guns
  • Sawed-off shotguns
  • Sawed-off rifles
  • Military firearms
  • Teflon-coated ammunition

Waiting Period

There is no waiting period to purchase a gun in South Carolina.

Who May Not Own

It is illegal to possess a handgun if a person:
  • Has been convicted of a crime of violence
  • Is a fugitive from justice
  • Is habitually drunk
  • Is a drug addict
  • Has been adjudicated mentally incompetent
  • Is a member of a subversive organization
  • Is under the age of eighteen
  • Has been adjudged unfit to carry or possess a firearm by a court
It is unlawful to possess ammunition or any firearm if a person:
  • Has been convicted of a violent crime that is classified as a felony offense

License Required?

A license is not required to own a gun in South Carolina.

Concealed Carry License Required?

In general, South Carolina requires people to have a permit to carry a concealed weapon. There are a few exceptions to the permit requirement, including licensed hunters while engaged in hunting and law enforcement officers.

Open Carried Allowed?

Open carry generally is not allowed in South Carolina. Beginning August 16, 2021, a person can openly carry a gun if they have a concealed weapon permit.

Eligibility for a Concealed Carry License

A person is eligible for a concealed carry permit in South Carolina if they:
  • Are a state resident or a nonresident who owns real property in South Carolina
  • Are 21 years of age or older
  • Are not prohibited by state law from possessing the weapon
  • Have proof of actual or corrected vision rated at 20/40 within six months of the date of application or a valid South Carolina driver's license
  • Have proof of firearm training

Machine Gun Laws

It is unlawful to transport or possess a machine gun in South Carolina.

Penalties for Illegal Firearm Possession

South Carolina's penalties for illegal firearm possession vary.
  • Illegal possession of a handgun is a felony punishable by up to 5 years imprisonment and up to a $2,000 fine
  • Unlawful carrying of a handgun is a misdemeanor punishable by up to 1 year imprisonment and up to a $1,000 fine
  • Possessing a machine gun, sawed-off shotgun, or sawed-off rifle is a felony punishable by up to 10 years imprisonment and up to a $10,000 fine
  • Possessing a firearm with a prior conviction for a violent felony punishable by up to 5 years imprisonment and up to a $2,000 fine

Penalties for Illegal Possession on or Near School Grounds

Illegal possession of a firearm on school grounds is a felony punishable by up to 5 years imprisonment and up to a $5,000 fine.

Note: State laws are always subject to change through the passage of new legislation, rulings in the higher courts (including federal decisions), ballot initiatives, and other means. While we strive to provide the most current information available, please consult an attorney or conduct your own legal research to verify the state law(s) you are researching.

Research the Law

Learn More About South Carolina Gun Control Laws

Everyone has different circumstances, and state laws change. If you have questions about your compliance with South Carolina's gun laws, consider consulting with an attorney licensed in South Carolina. An attorney also can represent you if you are charged with a crime or if you want to recover a seized gun.

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