How To Work With South Carolina Concealed Carry Laws
Given that there were more than 276,000 active concealed weapon permits in the state in the beginning of 2016, those looking to understand South Carolina concealed carry laws will find themselves in good company.
The concealed carry community is booming and willing to lend a hand.
Self-defense is a right in the state, and lawful South Carolinian gun owners have the full force of the law behind them, given that H.4301 (R412), also known as the Protection of Persons and Property Act, was signed by the Governor in 2006.
It is South Carolina’s version of castle doctrine, which affords the right to use deadly force in self-defense under certain circumstances in one’s home, residence or vehicle.
However, carrying concealed is illegal without the right weapons permit.
How To Apply For A South Carolina Concealed Weapons Permit
The South Carolina concealed weapons permit (CWP) application will first require attending a training course with a state-certified instructor.
Don’t worry about trying to find an instructor. The South Carolina Law Enforcement Division (SLED), which processes the permit application, provides an updated list of all certified CWP instructors in every city.
The course content, according to SC Code § 23-31-210 (4) (a) (i-iv), will inform the CCW applicant about handgun use, safety, storage, laws, firing and case studies.
The instructor must sign the application and provide the training date, their instructor certification number, the applicant’s student number and a signed copy of the course’s training checklist. The course can be taken up to three years prior to submitting the application.
Active duty military members are exempt from CWP training, and retired and former military members need only complete the legal portion of the CWP training.
Active and retired law enforcement whom are exempt from training must submit their current legal and firearm training documentation.
The application, which is to be mailed in to SLED and will require up to 90 days of processing time, must include the $50 fee, a photocopy of an official identification card, two complete sets of fingerprint cards and all the training certifications.
Retired law enforcement officers are exempt from paying the fee, but must include documentation of their retirement benefits. Active duty military applicants must submit their military orders. Retired or former military applicants are required to submit a copy of their DD214.
Disabled veterans and retired law enforcement personnel are not required to pay the application fee.
All that paperwork may seem labor-intensive, but South Carolina’s system is no different from many others’. Firearms restrictions are intensive.
Additionally, there is a state requirement of actual or corrected vision rated at 20/40 within six months of the application’s submission, as per SC Code § 23-31-215 (A) (4).
The application will be checked against various databases to establish whether or not the applicant is legally and mentally eligible to carry a gun pursuant state and federal law.
Nonresidents may submit an application for a CWP, but they must own property in the state and submit a Real Property Tax Form (SLED Form R-168). Nonresident aliens must submit a copy of their respective card from the Department of Homeland Security.
Application renewals may be completed online if none of the applicant’s information has changed. The renewal application may be submitted online only if the applicant is applying within 89 days prior to expiration or within 60 days after expiration.
Otherwise, the renewal application (the same as the initial) must be mailed in with the $50 fee. Another training course is not mandatory.
Beyond knowing how to apply, it’s important to know where firearms are prohibited in the state and, conversely, the various exceptions to needing a permit.
Permit Exceptions And Location Restrictions
South Carolina concealed carry restrictions are spread out over a number of sections within the state’s legal code. As this isn’t formal legal advice, nor a completely exhaustive guide to concealed carry in the state, make sure to double check the various state restrictions with state authorities before traveling.
Business owners may prohibit firearms on their property and within the machinery and equipment operated on the job, according to SC Code § 23-31-220. Private property owners may also prohibit firearms on their premises. However, both of those entities must post the appropriate-sized signage with the text “No Concealable Weapons Allowed” on it.
There are other locations that explicitly do not allow concealable weapons, and are not necessarily required to post signage.
According to SC Code § 23-31-215 (M) (1-10), permits do not allow gun owners to bring weapons into:
- Law enforcement, correctional and detention facilities
- Courthouses and courtrooms
- Polling booths on election days
- The office or meeting of a governing body of a county, public school district, municipality or special purpose district
- School or college sports events that aren’t related to firearms
- Daycare and preschool facilities
- Federally prohibited areas
- Churches or religious sanctuaries, unless permission is given
- Hospitals and places where medical services are provided
It’s a felony conviction under SC Code § 16-23-430 to carry concealed weapons on school premises outside the specified confines (see below) of a motor vehicle. There are also restrictions on carrying in alcohol-serving locations and carrying while intoxicated.
There are 16 classifications under SC Code § 16-23-20 (1-16) that allow firearms to be carried without the permit.
Some exceptions are common sense, such as for law enforcement and reserve police officers. However, there are a few notable exceptions to it being generally unlawful to carry a handgun without a permit:
- Those licensed hunters or fishermen who are engaged in the sport or traveling to or from their respective hunting or fishing location
- Within the premises of those with legal control of a property who give permission to do so, or those within their homes
- Within motor vehicles in a closed glove compartment, console, trunk or container
- Bringing the weapon in a secure wrapper from the point of purchase or between residences
- Business owners on their fixed place of business
- On motorcycles when the pistol is in a closed saddlebag or similar, closed attachment.
Beyond the specific locations within the state, reciprocity agreements will dictate who can travel to the state with a firearm, specifically when it leaves the motor vehicle.
South Carolina Concealed Carry Reciprocity
South Carolina’s concealed carry reciprocity agreements are currently active with 22 states.
Those traveling to South Carolina, however, must follow all the state’s established firearms laws. Those traveling from South Carolina to a reciprocal state must follow suit.
Though, again, SC Code § 16-23-20 (9) outlines that carrying a firearm in a “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” is not unlawful.
As reciprocity agreements are subject to change, as with any state firearms law, stay up to date with a CCW map and brush up on local bills and laws presented to legislative bodies.
About The Author
Jake Smith (@notjakesmith) is a copywriter in his final year of studying public relations and apparel at the University of Idaho.