Constitutional Carry in South Carolina – Changes to SC Gun Laws in 2024

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South Carolina’s legislature passed a Constitutional Carry Law this year, H. 3594, which was signed by the governor and went into effect on March 7, 2024.

SC gun laws now permit anyone who is not otherwise prohibited (by their criminal record, for example) to carry a handgun anywhere in the state (except for a limited number of areas like prisons and courtrooms) without a permit.

In this article, we will go over the most recent changes to SC gun laws in 2024, including:

  • Open carry and concealed carry laws in SC in 2024,
  • SC’s constitutional carry law, and
  • Criminal gun charges in SC.

Constitutional Carry in SC – What Does it Mean?

SC’s 2024 constitutional carry law made a lot of changes to SC gun laws, including:

  • Anyone 18 or older who is not otherwise prohibited can carry a firearm openly or concealed without a permit,
  • There is no training requirement for someone to carry a concealed handgun,
  • Firearms training should be free to the public as soon as the funds are appropriated,
  • Guns can be stored anywhere in a person’s vehicle,
  • You do not have to inform law enforcement that you have a firearm (even if you have a concealed weapon permit),
  • Possession of a firearm – concealed or not – is not probable cause to stop a person unless law enforcement has a reasonable and articulable suspicion that a crime has occurred,
  • If you are 18 or older, you can now apply for a CWP,
  • There are new, increased penalties for unlawful possession/ unlawful carry,
  • Lost or stolen firearms must be reported within 10 days,
  • Clerks of Court and Public Defenders can now carry firearms with a valid CWP anywhere in the state (not detention centers or prisons though), and
  • Unlawful possession or unlawful carry of handgun charges can now be expunged.

Where Can You Carry a Gun Under SC’s Constitutional Carry Law?

If you are not a prohibited person, you can carry a gun anywhere in South Carolina except the restricted areas listed in SC Code § 16-23-20:

  • Police departments or correctional facilities,
  • Polling places on election day,
  • County, school district, or municipality offices or meetings,
  • School events not related to firearms,
  • Daycares and preschools,
  • Anywhere firearms are prohibited under federal law,
  • Churches unless given permission,
  • Hospitals or medical facilities unless given permission,
  • Someone’s home unless given permission, and
  • Any place where a sign is posted prohibiting firearms “in compliance with Section 23-31-235.”

Where Can You Carry a Gun in Your Car Under SC’s Constitutional Carry Law?

You can put your gun anywhere in your vehicle under SC’s constitutional carry law – you can keep it in your pocket, put it on the dash, or store it in the glove box. It can be locked or unlocked.

If you are on school or university property, “any premises or property owned, operated, or controlled by a private or public school, college, university, technical college, other post-secondary institution, or in any publicly owned building,” any firearms must be “secured 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.”

Gun Laws in SC in 2024 – Criminal Gun Charges

South Carolina still has criminal firearms offenses – the most common include:

  • Unlawful possession of a handgun,
  • Pointing and presenting a firearm, and
  • Possession of a firearm during the commission of a violent crime.

Unlawful Possession of a Handgun/ Unlawful Carry/ Felon in Possession

SC Code § 16-23-30(A) makes it a crime to possess a handgun if the person:

  • Has been convicted of a crime of violence,
  • Is a fugitive from justice,
  • Is a habitual drunkard or drug addict,
  • Has been adjudicated mentally incompetent,
  • Is a member of a subversive organization,
  • Is under the age of eighteen, or
  • Has been judged unfit to carry or possess a firearm by a circuit court.

Section 16-23-30(B) makes it a crime to sell a handgun to (or give a handgun to) any person who is prohibited under 16-23-30(A).

Section 16-23-30(C) makes it a crime to “knowingly buy, sell, transport, pawn, receive, or possess [1] any stolen handgun or [2] one from which the original serial number has been removed or obliterated.”

Potential Penalties for an Unlawful Carry Conviction in SC

SC Code § 16-23-50 will have increased penalties under the new constitutional carry law for unlawful possession or unlawful carry of a handgun, including:

  • Up to one year for a first offense (misdemeanor),
  • Up to three years for a second offense (misdemeanor),
  • Up to five years for a third offense or greater (felony).

Pointing and Presenting

Under SC Code § 16-23-410 , it is a felony that carries up to five years in prison to “present or point at another person a loaded or unloaded firearm.”

Possession of a Firearm During the Commission of a Violent Crime

If a person is convicted of a violent crime as defined by SC Code Section 16-1-60 (murder, armed robbery, or burglary first degree, for example) and the jury finds that they possessed or displayed a firearm during the incident, they will receive an additional five-year sentence under SC Code § 16-23-490.

Expungements of Unlawful Possession Handgun or Unlawful Carry Handgun Convictions

The 2024 constitutional carry law makes it possible to expunge an unlawful possession of a firearm conviction (that carries up to one year or a fine of one thousand dollars).

If you have a previous conviction, you can now get it expunged if you apply before March 7, 2029 (five years after the date the constitutional carry law was signed by the governor).

If you are convicted for “a first offense… unlawful possession of a firearm or weapon carrying a penalty of not more than one year or a fine of one thousand dollars, or both,” you can now get the conviction expunged after three years.

Criminal Defense Lawyers in Columbia, SC, and Myrtle Beach, SC

The criminal defense attorneys at the Thompson & Hiller Defense Firm focus exclusively on criminal defense cases in SC. We have obtained dismissals, pre-trial diversion resulting in dismissals, or acquittals following trial in hundreds of criminal cases, and we have a record of proven results.

We accept criminal defense cases in Columbia, SC as well as Myrtle Beach, SC, and the surrounding areas, with offices in both locations to better serve your needs.

If you have been charged with a crime in SC or if you think you may be under investigation, call us now at 843-444-6122 or contact us through our website for a free initial consultation to find out if we can help.