Although state and federal law allows individuals to carry handguns in South Carolina, the relevant statutes are full of restrictions and limitations. Anyone found to be carrying a gun illegally in Charleston may face severe penalties, even for a first-time offense.

If you were charged with a firearms offense or have otherwise been denied your rights to gun ownership, consider consulting a knowledgeable Charleston gun lawyer for assistance. A criminal defense attorney who understands gun laws could help protect your rights and work toward a positive outcome in your case.

State Handgun Laws

South Carolina Code §16-23-10 defines a handgun as a firearm intended to be fired from the hand and designed to expel a projectile. Antique weapons, collectible items, or any gun that does not fire fixed cartridges is excluded from the definition.

S.C. Code §16-23-20 prohibits carrying a handgun, whether concealed or in the open. Numerous exceptions apply to this prohibition, however, and a Charleston gun attorney may be able to demonstrate that someone charged with a violation fits one of the exemptions.

For example, the prohibition does not apply to law enforcement officials, members of the armed services, and certain trained guards. The restriction also does not apply in several specific situations, such as licensed hunters engaged hunting, those who deal in or repair firearms, those with concealed carry permits, and members of civic organizations on parade or going to and from meetings.

Two broad exceptions allow carrying of a handgun: a person who is in their own home or business, or a person in the home of another person who has given proper authorization. In addition, an individual may carry a handgun in a vehicle if the gun is locked in a closed container, such as the trunk.

Who Is Prohibited from Owning a Gun?

Certain individuals are not permitted to own guns at all under S.C. Code §16-23-30. Those who may not possess handguns include persons who are:

  • Convicted of a violent crime
  • Fugitives from justice
  • Members of subversive organizations
  • Habitual drunkards or drug addicts
  • Adjudicated to be mentally incompetent
  • Under age 18

If a prohibited individual is found to possess handguns, or if someone is convicted of selling or delivering a handgun to a prohibited individual, the act is treated as a felony offense. State statutes also prohibit buying, selling, transporting or possessing handguns which are stolen or missing a serial number.

Penalties for Handgun Violations

Many gun law violations are felonies, and penalties may be especially severe where a handgun is present during the commission of another criminal offense. A knowledgeable gun lawyer in Charleston could explain the penalties applicable to a particular case.

Individuals who violate the prohibition against carrying a handgun may be found guilty of a misdemeanor and sentenced to up to one year in jail and a fine of up to $1,000. Other violations under this statutory section are felonies, the penalties for which may include up to five years in prison and a fine of up to $2,000.

Contact an Experienced Charleston Gun Attorney Today

With public opinion pressuring legislators and law enforcement officials to take action against gun violence, it is unlikely that enforcement of gun laws will relax any time in the near future. As such, any gun law charges should be taken seriously and defended carefully.

If you are facing criminal charges involving a firearm, reach out to an experienced Charleston gun lawyer for advice as soon as possible. A knowledgeable defense attorney could help you fight the charges and protect your rights.