2024 Changes to SC Gun Laws – Constitutional Carry is the New Law in South Carolina

SC’s “constitutional carry” law was passed and signed into law on March 7, 2024 – it goes into effect immediately.

What is “constitutional carry?”

Essentially, the new law allows most people to carry a gun, openly or concealed, without a permit or training, in most places. There are still criminal offenses for carrying a gun in the wrong place or for when the wrong person carries a gun, though.

In this blog post, we will take a look at SC’s new gun laws in 2024, including:

  • What “constitutional carry” means,
  • Where you can carry a gun legally in SC, and
  • The new rules for carrying a gun in your car.

“Constitutional Carry” in South Carolina

What does “constitutional carry” mean?

As a practical matter, it means that you do not need a permit to carry a gun in South Carolina – openly or concealed.

It’s called “constitutional carry” because some people believe that the Second Amendment, which says, “A well regulated Militia, being necessary to the security of a free State, the right of the people to keep and bear Arms, shall not be infringed.”

I don’t know how you can argue that sentence means, “You can carry a concealed handgun anywhere at any time,” but some people believe that is what it means.

Regardless, our state is now a “constitutional carry” state, and it is legal to carry your guns on your person even if they are concealed and even if you do not have a permit.

Open Carry Law in SC

SC’s constitutional carry law allows you to openly carry a firearm if you are not otherwise prohibited. You can carry it on your hip or put it on the dashboard of your vehicle, and it is legal.

Won’t police harass you if they see you openly carrying a firearm?

Maybe, but…

The law clearly states that law enforcement is not to search, detain, or arrest anyone without a “particularized and objective basis for suspecting the particular person stopped of criminal activity,” and openly carrying a firearm is not criminal activity in South Carolina.

If a police officer seems upset that you are exercising your constitutional right to carry a firearm, stay calm, comply with any lawful commands, and do your best to de-escalate the situation.

Concealed Carry Law in SC

SC’s constitutional carry law also allows you to carry a concealed firearm without a permit or any requirements whatsoever if you are not otherwise prohibited (due to criminal convictions, mental illness, restraining order, or another reason).

The SC  laws that made it a crime to carry a concealed weapon have been repealed by the new law, including SC Code § 16-23-460, which made it a crime for a person to carry “a deadly weapon usually used for the infliction of personal injury concealed about his person” unless they had a concealed weapon permit (CWP).

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

You can carry a gun almost anywhere – there is still a list of prohibited locations where you cannot take a gun or where you must have permission to carry your gun, including:

  • Police stations,
  • Jails,
  • Prison facilities,
  • Polling places when there is an election,
  • Offices of county government, school districts, municipalities, or special purpose districts,
  • Daycares and preschools,
  • Hospitals or medical facilities, and
  • Federal facilities.

You need permission to carry a firearm on school property or someone else’s property, and businesses can still prohibit guns by posting a sign at the entrance.

Can You Carry a Gun in Your Car in SC?

You can carry a gun in your car under the constitutional carry law, and there are no restrictions on where the gun must be kept.

Before, the gun had to be kept in a glovebox, center console, trunk, or secured container in the passenger compartment. Now, you can keep your gun anywhere, including on the dashboard, under the seat, or in your pocket.

Can I Get My Unlawful Carry Conviction Expunged Now?

SC’s expungement laws have also been amended to allow for the expungement of first-offense unlawful possession of firearm charges that carried a maximum penalty of one year or less.

If you were convicted of unlawful possession of a firearm before the new law was passed on March 7, 2024, you can get that conviction expunged, but you must act before March 7, 2029 (five years from the date the new law was passed).

Other Provisions in the SC “Constitutional Carry” Law

The “constitutional carry” bill contains many other provisions, including:

  • SC Code § 23-31-225, which made it a crime for a CWP holder to carry a concealed gun into someone’s home without their consent, is repealed (the new law makes it a crime for anyone to carry a concealed gun into someone’s home without their consent),
  • SC Code § 23-31-230, which clarified that anyone could transport a firearm to and from their vehicle, is repealed (the new law allows anyone to transport a firearm anywhere),
  • If your gun is in your vehicle on a school campus, it must be secured in the glovebox, center console, trunk, or closed container in the luggage compartment, and
  • If you choose to get your concealed weapon permit, the required classes are now offered for free.

Questions About South Carolina’s New “Constitutional Carry” Law?

Daniel A. Selwa is a criminal defense attorney in Myrtle Beach, SC.

If you have questions about SC’s new constitutional carry law, if you have been charged with a crime, or if you have an unlawful carry conviction that may be eligible for expungement, call now at (843) 492-5449 or send an email for a free consultation to discuss your case and how we can help.

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