Gun laws in South Carolina

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Gun laws in South Carolina regulate the sale, possession, and use of firearms and ammunition in the state of South Carolina in the United States.[1][2]

Summary table[edit]

Subject/Law Long Guns Handguns Relevant Statutes Notes
State permit required to purchase? No No
Firearm registration? No No
Owner license required? No No
Permit required for concealed carry? N/A Yes SC Code 23-31-210 South Carolina is a "shall issue" state for concealed carry.
Permit required for open carry? No N/A Open carry of a handgun is prohibited.
State preemption of local restrictions? Yes Yes SC Code 23-31-510 "No governing body of any county, municipality, or other political subdivision in the State may enact or promulgate any regulation or ordinance that regulates or attempts to regulate the transfer, ownership, possession, carrying, transportation, ammunition, components, or any combination of these things"

Columbia passed local ordinances enacting a red flag law and prohibiting firearms within 1000 feet of school grounds. On December 2, 2019, Attorney General Alan Wilson opined that both ordinances are likely a violation of preemption.[3][4]

Assault weapon law? No No
Magazine Capacity Restriction? No No
NFA weapons restricted? No No SC Code 16-23-210 through 16-23-250 Permitted if registered in accordance with federal laws. State law makes possession, storage, and transfer illegal but then grants an exception for "any person authorized to possess these weapons by the United States Department of the Treasury; the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, and Firearms; or any other federal agency empowered to grant this authorization".
Peaceable journey laws? No No None Federal rules observed.
Background checks required for private sales? No No
Location of South Carolina in the United States

South Carolina is a "shall issue" concealed carry permit state. No permit is required to purchase rifles, shotguns, or handguns. South Carolina also has "Castle Doctrine" legal protection of the use of deadly force against intruders into one's home, business, or car.[5] It is unlawful to carry a firearm onto private or public school property or into any publicly owned building except interstate rest areas without express permission. Open carry of a handgun is not allowed (long guns are allowed), but no permit is required to carry a loaded handgun in the console or glove compartment of a car. As of 3 June 2016, states with which South Carolina has reciprocity are: Alaska, Arizona, Arkansas, Florida, Georgia, Idaho (enhanced permit only), Kansas, Kentucky, Louisiana, Michigan, Missouri, New Mexico, North Carolina, North Dakota, Ohio, Oklahoma, South Dakota (enhanced permit only), Texas, Tennessee, Virginia, West Virginia, and Wyoming.[6][7][8] South Carolina only recognizes resident permits from the states with which it has reciprocity; non-resident permits from those states will not be honored. South Carolina does issue a CCW permit to a non-resident from a non-reciprocal state only if the non-resident owns real property in South Carolina as per Title 23 Chapter 31 Article 4 Section 23-31-210[9]

South Carolina law also now supports a "stand your ground" philosophy under the "Protection of Persons and Property Act" SECTION 16-11-440(C) with the following language. The act was apparently ruled non-retroactive in State v. Dickey.[10]

A person who is not engaged in an unlawful activity and who is attacked in another place where he has a right to be, including, but not limited to, his place of business, has no duty to retreat and has the right to stand his ground and meet force with force, including deadly force, if he reasonably believes it is necessary to prevent death or great bodily injury to himself or another person or to prevent the commission of a violent crime as defined in Section 16–1–60.

South Carolina also has the "alter-ego" clause with respect to the defense of others, under which a person who uses deadly force to defend a friend, relative or bystander will be allowed the benefit of the plea of self-defense if that plea would have been available to the person requiring assistance if they had been the one who used deadly force. In other words, the person intervening is deemed to "stand in the shoes" of the person on whose behalf he is intervening. If that individual "had the right to defend himself, then the intervening party is also protected by that right. To claim self-defense, a person has to be in a place they have a legal right to be, not be involved in any illegal activity, must not have started the confrontation, and must be in imminent danger of death or serious bodily harm.

Some counties have adopted Second Amendment sanctuary resolutions.[11]


  1. ^ "State Gun Laws: South Carolina", National Rifle Association – Institute for Legislative Action. Retrieved December 31, 2012.
  2. ^ "South Carolina State Law Summary", Law Center to Prevent Gun Violence. Retrieved December 31, 2012.
  3. ^ "AG Opinion 1" (PDF).
  4. ^ "AG Opinion 2" (PDF).
  5. ^ "Protection of Persons and Property Act", South Carolina Law Enforcement Division. Retrieved December 26, 2012.
  6. ^
  7. ^ South Carolina Concealed Carry CCW Laws and Information on Archived November 26, 2011, at the Wayback Machine
  8. ^ South Carolina Concealed Carry Permit Information on
  9. ^
  10. ^ State v. Dickey and S.C.'s "stand your ground" law dead link
  11. ^ "KCC unanimously passes Second Amendment resolution". Retrieved 2020-01-29.