South Carolina provides the right to carry a concealed weapon upon receiving the appropriate permit. However, mistakes happen, and some people find themselves at the wrong end of a charge of unlawful carrying of a handgun.
A criminal charge is not necessarily a conviction. The more a person knows, the more he may be able to avoid a conviction related to the carrying of a weapon.
Permitted carrying of a concealed weapon
Section 16-23-20 makes it illegal to carry a handgun, either concealed or openly, unless the carrier falls under an exception. Some exceptions include the following:
- Law enforcement and related professionals
- Active-duty military members
- Licensed hunters, while hunting or traveling to and from the hunting activity
- Members of authorized gun clubs or target shooting establishments and firearms dealers, when traveling to and from the establishment
- Authorized guards
- People in their own homes or on their own land
A person can also carry the handgun in his vehicle when following very specific and strict rules on where and how to store it. Alternatively, if he is a concealed-weapon permit holder, the carrier may keep the handgun on his body or under the seat.
A violation of concealed carry laws
Breaking this law can be expensive. Section 16-23-50(A)(2) indicates that a violation is a misdemeanor and can result in imprisonment up to a year and a fine of up to $1000. Moreover, the authorities will confiscate the handgun and give possession to the chief of police. If convicted, the owner will lose his rights to that property.
Note that there are numerous other laws regulating the use of a firearm. It would not be unheard of for a charge under section 16-23-20 to link to another charge with far more serious penalties. Furthermore, one may be exempt from a violation of 16-23-20, due to having a permit, yet be in violation of section 16-23-420 because the lawful carrying became unlawful when the person walked into his child’s school for a conference, unaware of the conflict.
When it comes to firearms laws in South Carolina, knowledge is key. Proactively learning the rules can make the difference between a conviction and a dismissed charge.