South Carolina protects the right to bear arms under Article I, Section 20 of the state constitution, but this does not mean that everyone may carry a gun, or that you may always carry a gun wherever you like. South Carolina requires a concealable carry permit to carry a weapon openly or concealed on (or near) you body or vehicle unless you are in your house, at your place of business, or on your own property. (S.C. Code Ann.§ 16-23-20.)
For more information on permitting laws, see Gun Permit Laws in South Carolina.
The following sections explain who may not have a gun, and the circumstances or situations when carrying a gun is illegal.
People Who May Not Carry a Gun in South Carolina
The following individuals are prohibited from carrying a weapon in South Carolina.
- those younger than 21 years old, and
- non-residents of South Carolina, unless the person is a permit holder from a state with reciprocity with South Carolina—see Gun Permit Laws in South Carolina for more information on reciprocity—or a qualified nonresident (someone who owns real property in South Carolina, but is not a state resident).
(S.C. Code Ann.§ 23-31-215.)
Situations or Circumstances Where Carrying a Gun is Illegal
The following rules govern when you may not carry a gun in South Carolina.
- Unless you are in your house, place of business, or on your own property, you may not carry a firearm without a concealed carry permit. (S.C. Code Ann.§ 16-23-20.)
- You may not carry a firearm (openly or concealed) on another person’s property if that person has prohibited it. (S.C. Code Ann.§ 23-31-220.)
- You may not carry a firearm in a jail, prison, or detention facility. (S.C. Code Ann.§ 24-13-440.)
- You may not carry a firearm on school premises (including day care and preschool facilities), in law enforcement offices or facilities, in court facilities, at polling places on election days, in churches or other religious sanctuaries,or in hospitals or medical facilities. (S.C. Code Ann.§ 23-31-215.)
Penalties for Gun Carry Violations
It is illegal to carry a handgun in South Carolina without a concealed carry license (unless you are in your own home, on your own property, or at your fixed place of business; or fall into other limited exceptions). Penalties include a fine of up to $10,000, up to ten years in prison, or both. (S.C. Code Ann.§ 23-31-340.)
Penalties for carrying a firearm on school premises, in law enforcement offices or facilities, in court facilities, at polling places on election days, in churches or other religious sanctuaries, or in hospitals or medical facilities include a fine of at least $1,000, up to one year in jail, or both. (S.C. Code Ann.§ 23-31-215.)
Getting Legal Help
The penalties for violating gun carry laws are serious, and often include harsh fines and long prison sentences. If you have any questions about whether you are allowed to carry a gun in South Carolina, or if you are facing charges for a gun violation, consult a qualified criminal defense lawyer.