South Carolina generally requires a person to obtain a concealable weapons permit prior to carrying a handgun in most public spaces, whether carrying the handgun concealed or openly.1 Exceptions include:
- A licensed hunter or fisherman engaged in hunting or fishing or going to or from hunting or fishing while in a vehicle or on foot;
- Members and guests of organizations or clubs engaging in target shooting or collecting modern and antique firearms;
- In his or her home or on his or her real property or acting with the permission of the owner or person in legal possession or control of the home or real property; or
- The owner or person in legal possession or legal control of a fixed place of business, while at the place of business.2
South Carolina is a “shall issue” state, meaning that the South Carolina Law Enforcement Division (“SLED”) is generally required to issue a concealable weapons permit if the applicant meets the specified minimum qualifications. More specifically, SLED must issue a permit to any state resident or qualified nonresident who is at least 21 years of age, not prohibited by state law from possessing the firearm, and who has submitted “proof of training.”3 A “qualified nonresident” of South Carolina for purposes of a permit to carry a concealable weapon is any individual who owns real property in South Carolina but resides in another state.4
Firearm Safety Training
As part of the application for a permit, applicants must submit “proof of training.”5 “Proof of training” generally means a document that the applicant has demonstrated a proficiency in both the use of handguns and state laws pertaining to handguns, or has completed a handgun education course offered by a law enforcement agency or nationally-recognized organization that promotes gun safety within the last three years.6 The course must include:
- Information on state law relating to handguns and 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 reduce the possibility of accidental injury to a child; and
- The actual firing of the handgun in the presence of an instructor. A minimum of twenty-five rounds must be fired.7
SLED is required to promulgate regulations containing guidelines for the courses and their instructors.8
Duration & Renewal
Upon submission of these renewal application materials, SLED must conduct or facilitate a local, state and federal background check of the applicant, and must renew the permit if the background check is favorable to the applicant.11
Disclosure or Use of Information
In South Carolina, SLED must maintain a list of all permit holders and the current status of each permit.12 SLED may release the list of permit holders or verify an individual’s permit status only if the request is made by a law enforcement agency to aid in an official investigation, or if the list is required to be released pursuant to a subpoena or court order.13
During the first quarter of each calendar year, SLED must publish a report including, for the previous calendar year, the number of valid permits, permits issued, denied, renewed, suspended, or revoked, and the name, address, and county of any person whose permit was revoked, including the reason for the revocation. The report must include a breakdown of such information by county.14
Valid out-of-state permits to carry concealable weapons held by a resident of a reciprocal state must be honored by South Carolina, provided the reciprocal state requires applicants to pass a criminal background check and a firearms safety and training course.15 SLED must maintain and publish a list of those states with which South Carolina has reciprocity.16 The current list of states with which South Carolina has reciprocity can be viewed at the SLED website. However, a law enacted in 2016 provides that South Carolina automatically recognizes concealed weapon permits issued by Georgia and North Carolina.17
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- S.C. Code Ann. §§ 16-23-20(12); 16-23-460.
- S.C. Code Ann. § 16-23-20.
- S.C. Code Ann. § 23-31-215(A).
- S.C. Code Ann. § 23-31-210(2).
- S.C. Code Ann. § 23-31-215(A)(5).
- S.C. Code Ann. § 23-31-210(4).
- Id. The guidelines are available at S.C. Code Regs. 73-300 – 73-340.
- S.C. Code Ann. § 23-31-215(P).
- S.C. Code Ann. § 23-31-215(Q).
- S.C. Code Ann. § 23-31-215(I).
- S.C. Code Ann. § 23-31-215(T).
- S.C. Code Ann. § 23-31-215(N).
- Section 23-31-215(N)(2).