South Carolina Gun Law
The laws governing the legal use, storage and carrying of firearms are constantly changing. Below are the applicable laws in the State of South Carolina as of 3/21/2013. The below information is designed to be a guide and not the final word. If you have specific questions, please refer to the South Carolina legislation at the South Carolina Law Enforcement Division (SLED) at sled.sc.gov.
SECTION 23-31-210. Definitions.
(1) “Resident” means an individual who is present in South Carolina with the intention of making a permanent home in South Carolina or military personnel on permanent change of station orders.
(2) “Qualified nonresident” means an individual who owns real property in South Carolina, but who resides in another state.
(3) “Picture identification” means:
(a) a valid South Carolina driver’s license, or if the applicant is a qualified nonresident, a valid driver’s license issued by the state in which the applicant resides; or
(b) an official photographic identification card issued by the Department of Revenue, a federal or state law enforcement agency, an agency of the United States Department of Defense, or the United States Department of State.
(4) “Proof of residence” means a person’s current address on the original or certified copy of:
(a) a valid South Carolina driver’s license;
(b) an official identification card issued by the Department of Revenue, a federal or state law enforcement agency, an agency of the United States Department of Defense, or the United States Department of State;
(c) a voter registration card; or
(d) another document that SLED may determine that fulfills this requirement.
(5) “Proof of training” means an original document or certified copy of the document supplied by an applicant that certifies that he is either:
(a) a person who, within three years before filing an application, has successfully completed a basic or advanced handgun education course offered by a state, county, or municipal law enforcement agency or a nationally recognized organization that promotes gun safety. This education course must be a minimum of eight hours and must include, but is not limited to:
information on the statutory and case law of this State relating to handguns and to the use of deadly force;
information on handgun use and safety;
information on the proper storage practice for handguns with an emphasis on storage practices that reduces the possibility of accidental injury to a child; and
the actual firing of the handgun in the presence of the instructor;
(b) an instructor certified by the National Rifle Association or another SLED approved competent national organization that promotes the safe use of handguns;
(c) a person who can demonstrate to the Director of SLED or his designee that he has a proficiency in both the use of handguns and state laws pertaining to handguns;
(d) an active duty police handgun instructor;
(e) a person who has a SLED certified or approved competitive handgun shooting classification; or
(f) a member of the active or reserve military, or a member of the National Guard who has had handgun training in the previous three years.
SLED shall promulgate regulations containing general guidelines for courses and qualifications for instructors which would satisfy the requirements of this item. For purposes of subitems (a) and (b), “proof of training” is not satisfied unless the organization and its instructors meet or exceed the guidelines and qualifications contained in the regulations promulgated by SLED pursuant to this item.
(6) “Concealable weapon” means a firearm having a length of less than twelve inches measured along its greatest dimension that must be carried in a manner that is hidden from public view in normal wear of clothing except when needed for self defense, defense of others, and the protection of real or personal property.
(7) “Proof of ownership of real property” means a certified current document from the county assessor of the county in which the property is located verifying ownership of the real property. SLED must determine the appropriate document that fulfills this requirement.
SECTION 23-31-215. Issuance of permits.
(A) Notwithstanding any other provision of law, except subject to subsection (B) of this section, SLED must issue a permit, which is no larger than three and one half inches by three inches in size, to carry a concealable weapon to a resident or qualified nonresident who is at least twenty one years of age and who is not prohibited by state law from possessing the weapon upon submission of:
(1) a completed application signed by the person;
(2) one current full face color photograph of the person, not smaller than one inch by one inch nor larger than three inches by five inches;
(3) proof of residence or if the person is a qualified nonresident, proof of ownership of real property in this State;
(4) proof of actual or corrected vision rated at 20/40 within six months of the date of application or, in the case of a person licensed to operate a motor vehicle in this State, presentation of a valid driver’s license;
(5) proof of training;
(6) payment of a fifty dollar application fee. This fee must be waived for disabled veterans and retired law enforcement officers; and
(7) a complete set of fingerprints unless, because of a medical condition verified in writing by a licensed medical doctor, a complete set of fingerprints is impossible to submit. In lieu of the submission of fingerprints, the applicant must submit the written statement from a licensed medical doctor specifying the reason or reasons why the applicant’s fingerprints may not be taken. If all other qualifications are met, the Chief of SLED may waive the fingerprint requirements of this item. The statement of medical limitation must be attached to the copy of the application retained by SLED. A law enforcement agency may charge a fee not to exceed five dollars for fingerprinting an applicant.
(B) Upon submission of the items required by subsection (A) of this section, SLED must conduct or facilitate a local, state, and federal fingerprint review of the applicant. SLED must also conduct a background check of the applicant through notification to and input from the sheriff of the county where the applicant resides or if the applicant is a qualified nonresident, where the applicant owns real property in this State. The sheriff within ten working days after notification by SLED, must submit a recommendation on an application. Before making a determination whether or not to issue a permit under this article, SLED must consider the recommendation provided pursuant to this subsection. The failure of the sheriff to submit a recommendation within the ten day period constitutes a favorable recommendation for the issuance of the permit to the applicant. If the fingerprint review and background check are favorable, SLED must issue the permit.
(C) SLED shall issue a written statement to an unqualified applicant specifying its reasons for denying the application within ninety days from the date the application was received; otherwise, SLED shall issue a concealable weapon permit. If an applicant is unable to comply with the provisions of Section 23-31-210(4), SLED shall offer the applicant a handgun training course that satisfies the requirements of Section 23-31-210(4)(a). The course shall cost fifty dollars. SLED shall use the proceeds to defray the training course’s operating costs. If a permit is granted by operation of law because an applicant was not notified of a denial within the ninety day notification period, the permit may be revoked upon written notification from SLED that sufficient grounds exist for revocation or initial denial.
(D) Denial of an application may be appealed. The appeal must be in writing and state the basis for the appeal. The appeal must be submitted to the Chief of SLED within thirty days from the date the denial notice is received. The chief shall issue a written decision within ten days from the date the appeal is received. An adverse decision shall specify the reasons for upholding the denial and may be reviewed by the Administrative Law Judge Division pursuant to Article 5, Chapter 23 of Title 1, upon a petition filed by an applicant within thirty days from the date of delivery of the division’s decision.
(E) SLED must make permit application forms available to the public. A permit application form shall require an applicant to supply:
(1) name, including maiden name if applicable;
(2) date and place of birth;
(7) eye and hair color;
(8) current residence address, or if the applicant is a qualified nonresident, current residence address and where the applicant owns real property in this State; and
(9) all residence addresses for the three years preceding the application date.
(F) The permit application form shall require the applicant to certify that:
(1) he is not a person prohibited under state law from possessing a weapon;
(2) he understands the permit is revoked and must be surrendered immediately to SLED if the permit holder becomes a person prohibited under state law from possessing a weapon;
(3) he is a resident of this State, is military personnel on permanent change of station orders, or is a qualified nonresident; and
(4) all information contained in his application is true and correct to the best of his knowledge.
(G) Medical personnel, law enforcement agencies, organizations offering handgun education courses pursuant to Section 23-31-210(4)(a), and their personnel, who in good faith provide information regarding a person’s application, must be exempt from liability that may arise from issuance of a permit; provided, however, a weapons instructor must meet the requirements established in Section 23-31-210(4)(b), (c), (d), (e), or (f) in order to be exempt from liability under this subsection.
(H) A permit application must be submitted in person or by mail to SLED headquarters which shall verify the legibility and accuracy of the required documents.
(I) SLED must maintain a list of all permit holders and the current status of each permit. Upon request, SLED must release the list of permit holders or verify an individual’s permit status. SLED may charge a fee not to exceed its costs in releasing the information under this subsection.
(J) A permit is valid statewide unless revoked because the person has:
(1) become a person prohibited under state law from possessing a weapon;
(2) moved his permanent residence to another state and no longer owns real property in this State;
(3) voluntarily surrendered the permit; or
(4) been charged with an offense that, upon conviction, would prohibit the person from possessing a firearm. However, if the person subsequently is found not guilty of the offense, then his permit must be reinstated at no charge. Once a permit is revoked, it must be surrendered to a sheriff, police department, a SLED agent, or by certified mail to the Chief of SLED. A person who fails to surrender his permit in accordance with this subsection is guilty of a misdemeanor and, upon conviction, must be fined twenty five dollars.
(K) A permit holder must have his permit identification card in his possession whenever he carries a concealable weapon. When carrying a concealable weapon pursuant to Article 4 of Chapter 31 of Title 23, a permit holder must inform a law enforcement officer of the fact that he is a permit holder and present the permit identification card when an officer (1) identifies himself as a law enforcement officer and (2) requests identification or a driver’s license from a permit holder. A permit holder immediately must report the loss or theft of a permit identification card to SLED headquarters. A person who violates the provisions of this subsection is guilty of a misdemeanor and, upon conviction, must be fined twenty five dollars.
(L) SLED shall issue a replacement for lost, stolen, damaged, or destroyed permit identification cards after the permit holder has updated all information required in the original application and the payment of a five dollar replacement fee. Any change of permanent address must be communicated in writing to SLED within ten days of the change accompanied by the payment of a fee of five dollars to defray the cost of issuance of a new permit. SLED shall then issue a new permit with the new address. A permit holder’s failure to notify SLED in accordance with this subsection constitutes a misdemeanor punishable by a twenty five dollar fine. The original permit shall remain in force until receipt of the corrected permit identification card by the permit holder, at which time the original permit must be returned to SLED.
(M) A permit issued pursuant to this section does not authorize a permit holder to carry a concealable weapon into a:
(1) police, sheriff, or highway patrol station or any other law enforcement office or facility;
(2) detention facility, prison, or jail or any other correctional facility or office;
(3) courthouse or courtroom;
(4) polling place on election days;
(5) office of or the business meeting of the governing body of a county, public school district, municipality, or special purpose district;
(6) school or college athletic event not related to firearms;
(7) daycare facility or pre school facility;
(8) place where the carrying of firearms is prohibited by federal law;
(9) church or other established religious sanctuary unless express permission is given by the appropriate church official or governing body; or
(10) hospital, medical clinic, doctor’s office, or any other facility where medical services or procedures are performed unless expressly authorized by the employer.
A person who wilfully violates a provision of this subsection is guilty of a misdemeanor and, upon conviction, must be fined not less than one thousand dollars or imprisoned not more than one year, or both, at the discretion of the court and have his permit revoked for five years. Nothing contained herein may be construed to alter or affect the provisions of Sections 10 11 320, 16 23 420, 16 23 430, 16 23 465, 44 23 1080, 44 52 165, 50 9 830, and 51 3 145.
(N) Valid out of state permits to carry concealable weapons held by a resident of a reciprocal state must be honored by this State. SLED shall make a determination as to those states which have permit issuance standards equal to or greater than the standards contained in this article and shall maintain and publish a list of those states as the states with which South Carolina has reciprocity.
(O) A permit issued pursuant to this article is not required for a person:
specified in Section 16-23-20, items (1) through (5) and items (7) through (11);
carrying a self defense device generally considered to be nonlethal including the substance commonly referred to as “pepper gas”;
carrying a concealable weapon in a manner not prohibited by law.
(P) A permit issued pursuant to this article is valid for four years. Subject to subsection (Q) of this section, SLED shall renew a currently valid permit upon:
payment of a fifty dollar renewal fee by the applicant. This fee must be waived for disabled veterans and retired law enforcement officers;
completion of the renewal application; and
submission of a photocopy of the applicant’s valid South Carolina driver’s license or South Carolina identification card, or if the applicant is a qualified nonresident, a photocopy of the applicant’s valid driver’s license or identification card issued by the state in which the applicant resides.
(Q) Upon submission of the items required by subsection (P) of this section, SLED must conduct or facilitate a local, state, and federal fingerprint review of the applicant. If the background check is favorable, SLED must renew the permit.
(R) No provision contained within this article shall expand, diminish, or affect the duty of care owed by and liability accruing to, as may exist at law immediately before the effective date of this article, the owner of or individual in legal possession of real property for the injury or death of an invitee, licensee, or trespasser caused by the use or misuse by a third party of a concealable weapon. Absence of a sign prohibiting concealable weapons shall not constitute negligence or establish a lack of duty of care.
(S) Once a concealed weapon permit holder is no longer a resident of this State or is no longer a qualified nonresident, his concealed weapon permit is void, and immediately must be surrendered to SLED.
SECTION 23-31-216. Collection and retention of fees.
The State Law Enforcement Division shall collect, retain, and carry forward all fees associated with the concealable weapon application, renewal, and replacement of the permit, as provided for in this article.
SECTION 23-31-217. Effect on Section 16-23-20.
Nothing in this article shall affect the provisions of Section 16-23-20.
SECTION 23-31-220. Right to allow or permit concealed weapons upon premises; signs.
Nothing contained in this article shall in any way be construed to limit, diminish, or otherwise infringe upon:
(1) the right of a public or private employer to prohibit a person who is licensed under this article from carrying a concealable weapon upon the premises of the business or work place or while using any machinery, vehicle, or equipment owned or operated by the business;
(2) the right of a private property owner or person in legal possession or control to allow or prohibit the carrying of a concealable weapon upon his premises.
The posting by the employer, owner, or person in legal possession or control of a sign stating “No Concealable Weapons Allowed” shall constitute notice to a person holding a permit issued pursuant to this article that the employer, owner, or person in legal possession or control requests that concealable weapons not be brought upon the premises or into the work place. A person who brings a concealable weapon onto the premises or work place in violation of the provisions of this paragraph may be charged with a violation of Section 16-11-620. In addition to the penalties provided in Section 16-11-620, a person convicted of a second or subsequent violation of the provisions of this paragraph must have his permit revoked for a period of one year. The prohibition contained in this section does not apply to persons specified in Section 16-23-20, item (1).
SECTION 23-31-225. Carrying concealed weapons into residences or dwellings.
No person who holds a permit issued pursuant to Article 4, Chapter 31, Title 23 may carry a concealable weapon into the residence or dwelling place of another person without the express permission of the owner or person in legal control or possession, as appropriate. A person who violates this provision is guilty of a misdemeanor and, upon conviction, must be fined not less than one thousand dollars or imprisoned for not more than one year, or both, at the discretion of the court and have his permit revoked for five years.
SECTION 23-31-230. Carrying concealed weapons between automobile and accommodation.
Notwithstanding any provision of law, any person may carry a concealable weapon from an automobile or other motorized conveyance to a room or other accommodation he has rented and upon which an accommodations tax has been paid.
SECTION 23-31-235. Sign requirements.
(A) Notwithstanding any other provision of this article, any requirement of or allowance for the posting of signs prohibiting the carrying of a concealable weapon upon any premises shall only be satisfied by a sign expressing the prohibition in both written language interdict and universal sign language.
(B) All signs must be posted at each entrance into a building where a concealable weapon permit holder is prohibited from carrying a concealable weapon and must be:
- clearly visible from outside the building;
- eight inches wide by twelve inches tall in size;
- contain the words “NO CONCEALABLE WEAPONS ALLOWED” in black one inch tall uppercase type at the bottom of the sign and centered between the lateral edges of the sign;
- contain a black silhouette of a handgun inside a circle seven inches in diameter with a diagonal line that runs from the lower left to the upper right at a forty five degree angle from the horizontal;
- a diameter of a circle; and
- placed not less than forty inches and not more than sixty inches from the bottom of the building’s entrance door.
(C) If the premises where concealable weapons are prohibited does not have doors, then the signs contained in subsection (A) must be:
- thirty six inches wide by forty eight inches tall in size;
- contain the words “NO CONCEALABLE WEAPONS ALLOWED” in black three inch tall uppercase type at the bottom of the sign and centered between the lateral edges of the sign;
- contain a black silhouette of a handgun inside a circle thirty four inches in diameter with a diagonal line that is two inches wide and runs from the lower left to the upper right at a forty five degree angle from the horizontal and must be a diameter of a circle whose circumference is two inches wide;
- placed not less than forty inches and not more than ninety six inches above the ground;
- posted in sufficient quantities to be clearly visible from any point of entry onto the premises.
SECTION 23-31-240. Persons allowed to carry concealed weapon while on duty.
Notwithstanding any other provision contained in this article, the following persons who possess a valid permit pursuant to this article may carry a concealable weapon anywhere within this State, when carrying out the duties of their office
- active Supreme Court justices;
- active judges of the court of appeals;
- active circuit court judges;
- active family court judges;
- active masters-in-equity;
- active probate court judges;
- active magistrates;
- active municipal court judges;
- active federal judges;
- active administrative law judges;
- active solicitors and assistant solicitors; and
- active workers’ compensation commissioners.
SECTION 16-23-10 “Luggage compartment” means the trunk of a motor vehicle which has a trunk; however, with respect to a motor vehicle which does not have a trunk, the term “luggage compartment” refers to the area of the motor vehicle in which the manufacturer designed that luggage be carried or to the area of the motor vehicle in which luggage is customarily carried. In a station wagon, van, hatchback vehicle, or sport utility vehicle, the term “luggage compartment” refers to the area behind, but not under, the rearmost seat. In a truck, the term “ luggage compartment” refers to the area behind the rearmost seat, but not under the front seat.
SECTION 16-23-20. Unlawful carrying of handgun; exceptions.
A person in a vehicle if the handgun is 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; however, this item is not violated if the glove compartment, console, or trunk is opened in the presence of a law enforcement officer for the sole purpose of retrieving a driver’s license, registration, or proof of insurance;
Any person on a motorcycle when the pistol is secured in a closed saddlebag or other similar closed accessory container attached, whether permanently or temporarily, to the motorcycle.
Residents of reciprocal states who hold permits issued by their states of residence may carry concealed firearms in South Carolina, but must abide by the restrictions in the South Carolina CWP law. For that reason, out of state residents of reciprocal states should familiarize themselves with restricted carry locations and other provisions of South Carolina law posted on this website. South Carolina permittees who carry firearms in reciprocal states are likewise responsible for familiarizing themselves with the applicable laws and regulations of the reciprocal state. Web sites of those states may be accessed by selecting the desired state name listed above.
The State of South Carolina ONLY honors Resident Concealed Carry Permits/License from the states listed below:
Alaska, Arizona, Arkansas, Florida, Kansas, Kentucky, Louisiana, Michigan, Missouri, North Carolina, Ohio, Oklahoma, Tennessee, Texas, Virginia, West Virginia, Wyoming
A South Carolina Resident Concealed Weapons Permit is honored by the states listed below:
Alaska, Arizona, Arkansas, Florida, Idaho, Indiana, Iowa, Kansas, Kentucky, Louisiana, Michigan, Mississippi, Missouri, Montana, Nebraska, Nevada, North Carolina, North Dakota, Ohio, Oklahoma, South Carolina, South Dakota, Tennessee, Texas, Utah, Vermont, Virginia, West Virginia, Wyoming
A South Carolina Non-Resident Concealed Weapons Permit is honored by the states listed below:
Alaska, Arizona, Arkansas, Idaho, Indiana, Iowa, Kansas, Kentucky, Louisiana, Mississippi, Missouri, Montana, Nebraska, Nevada, North Carolina, North Dakota, Ohio, Oklahoma, South Carolina, South Dakota, Tennessee, Texas, Utah, Vermont, Virginia, West Virginia, Wyoming
Note: South Carolina does not honor any non-resident permit/license.
SECTION 23-31-210. Definitions. “Qualified nonresident” means an individual who owns real property in South Carolina, but who resides in another state.
The state of South Carolina will issue a Concealed Weapons Permit to a "Qualified nonresident."