South Carolina Gun Laws


South Carolina is bordered to the north by North Carolina, to the west and south by Georgia, and to the east by the Atlantic Ocean.  It was the founding state of the Confederacy as it was the first to secede from the Union during the Civil War.

A. State Constitution

Regarding the right to bear arms, the South Carolina Constitution states:

“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.  As, in times of peace, armies are dangerous to liberty, they shall not be maintained without the consent of the General Assembly.  The military power of the State shall always be held in subordination to the civil authority and be governed by it.  No soldier shall in time of peace be quartered in any house without the consent of the owner nor in time of war but in the manner prescribed by law.”


B. Scope of Preemption

The controlling language of South Carolina’s preemption statute is set forth as follows:

“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: (1) the transfer, ownership, possession, carrying, or transportation of firearms, ammunition, components of firearms, or any combination of these things.”


C. Reciprocal Carry

By statute, South Carolina will recognize another state’s license to carry if that state recognizes South Carolina’s license:

“Valid out-of-state permits to carry concealable weapons held by a resident of a reciprocal state must be honored by this State, provided, that the reciprocal state requires an applicant to successfully pass a criminal background check and a course in firearm training and safety. A resident of a reciprocal state carrying a concealable weapon in South Carolina is subject to and must abide by the laws of South Carolina regarding concealable weapons.”


Anyone contemplating reciprocal carry should check with the official list maintained by the South Carolina State Law Enforcement Division (SLED) at the point in time the reciprocal carry is to occur.  South Carolina’s reciprocity agreement can viewed here: []

D. Duty to Inform Officers

South Carolina requires holders of a permit or license to carry to notify and present their permit to any Officer that identifies themselves as LEO or asks for identification or a driver’s license.

E. NFA Items

South Carolina permits ownership of all NFA items, provided they are legally obtained pursuant to federal law.  It is legal to use suppressors for hunting.

F. Carrying Firearms in Vehicles

South Carolina generally prohibits carrying handguns in vehicles without a permit.  The exceptions are that You may transport a handgun to and from a place where You may legally possess a handgun, to or from a hunting trip, or in a vehicle if the handgun is secured in a closed glove compartment, closed console, closed trunk or closed container secured by an integral fastener and transported in the “luggage compartment” of the vehicle.


G. Self-defense Laws

South Carolina has both Castle Doctrine and SYG laws.  There is no duty to retreat from any place You have a legal right to be. You may use force, including deadly force, in defense of yourself or others if You reasonably believe it is necessary to prevent imminent death, SBI, the commission of a forcible felony, or to stop the unlawful & forcible entry into a dwelling, place of business, or occupied motor vehicle.  People are immune from civil liability from lawsuits arising from their lawful use of force in self-defense. []

H. Criminal Provisions

Under South Carolina law, a license to carry a handgun is not valid in any of the following places or circumstances, whether it is issued by South Carolina, or a person is carrying pursuant to a reciprocity agreement between his or her state of license and South Carolina:

  • Upon request by an owner or occupant of a business to not carry on their property
  • A private or public school, college, university, technical college, or other post-secondary institution
  • On a bus
  • Any publicly owned building without express permission
  • Any other law-enforcement office or facility
  • A detention facility, prison, or jail
  • Any place with a posted ‘no guns’ sign []
  • A courthouse or courtroom
  • Any polling place on an election day
  • An office or meeting place of a governing body of any county, public school district, municipality, or special purpose district
  • A daycare or preschool facility
  • A school or college athletic event (which is not related to firearms)
  • A church or other religious sanctuary
  • Any place prohibited by federal law
  • A hospital, medical clinic, doctor’s office, or any other facility where medical services are performed
  • Into the residence of another person without express permission to carry
  • Discharge while under the influence of alcohol
  • At an establishment that serves alcohol

For a list of places where carrying firearms is prohibited, see: