Generally speaking, South Carolina is a pretty gun-friendly state. South Carolina treats the Second Amendment very seriously and they have made it possible to purchase and own a variety of firearms with very little difficulty. That isn’t to say everybody can own a gun, though; after all, those with a criminal record will be unable to purchase one due to federal law prohibitions.
But overall, South Carolina treats guns as a respected American right. However, it is important to note that there are cases in which a legally possessed firearm can be considered illegally possessed. What this means is that there are ways in which a gun owner can break the law without realizing and this can result in some serious fines or even time spent behind bars.
When is it a Crime to Possess a Handgun in South Carolina?
The South Carolina Code of Laws dedicates a lot of space to handguns under Article 1 of Chapter 23. That chapter also goes on to speak about rifles and shotguns, as well as explosives and other miscellaneous offenses related to weapons.
Some crimes worth noting, though they don’t exactly fall under gun possession, is that it is illegal to point or present a firearm at another person (even if it is unloaded).
It is also a separate crime if the firearm is used while committing or attempting to commit a violent crime. So a firearm which was okay to possess can quickly become illegal that way. However, when it comes to possession of a handgun, there are a few situations which you should watch out for:
- Unlawful Carrying: It is illegal to carry a handgun, whether concealed or not, unless you follow or fall into one of the 16 stipulations the Code of Laws puts into place. For most of these stipulations it is simply stating that people such as licensed hunters, members of the armed forces or law enforcement officers are allowed handguns. You may have a handgun in your home or in a friend’s home, so long as they have allowed it. You can have a firearm in your car but it must be in a secure, closed compartment unless it is on your person and you also have a concealed weapons permit. If you want to move a handgun from one location to the next then you can do so by carrying it so long as it is unloaded and in a secure wrapper.
- Carrying On School Grounds: You absolutely cannot take a firearm on school property. If you are found with one then you are guilty of a felony which requires that you must be fined up to $5,000 and imprisoned for up to five years.
- Selling to Persons Unlawful: You cannot knowingly sell a handgun to a person who is considered unlawful. Unlawful individuals are those convicted of a crime or who are a member of a subversive organization. It is also illegal to sell to somebody under the age of eighteen or somebody who a judge has deemed unfit to possess a handgun.
- Stolen Firearms: Owning a firearm that has been stolen is illegal. However, you must know that the gun is stolen for this particular gun possession charge to stick. Also note, a gun with the serial number filed off is considered as a stolen firearm even if you legally bought it yourself.
- What to do if You Find a Handgun: If you find a handgun then it is your duty to turn it over to the police. Failure to do so will see the handgun as stolen. However, if nobody claims the gun in a window of ninety days then you can file an application to have the found gun returned to you.
Are there Other Guns Which are Prohibited in South Carolina?
Machine guns and sawed-off shotguns are pretty much illegal across the board in South Carolina. You may not transport a machine gun, military firearm or sawed-off shotgun or rifle within the state except in cases of organizations granted permission by the state such as police or military officers.
Further, storing one of these weapons is also considered to be illegal possession. So you cannot move one of these weapons around, nor is it legally for you to store one. It should go without saying then that selling one is also illegal.
What are the Penalties for Illegal Possession of a Firearm in South Carolina?
Most cases of unlawful possession are only misdemeanor offenses. This means that for unlawfully carrying a handgun you could still get jail time for a possession charge up to a year. There are also fines which will have to be paid but these differ depending on the particular charge in question.
However, if your gun possession charge is for a stolen weapon then the state will not treat it so lightly. A stolen weapon charge can result in up to five years in prison alongside any potential fines you may have to pay.
It is also worth noting that one penalty you’ll face is your forfeiture to owning guns after you come out. If you are found guilty of a criminal charge that carries the possibility of more than 1 year in jail then your right to bear arms is greatly reduced and you may not be able to own another gun in the state.
How Do I Fight a Gun Possession Charge?
The best way to fight a gun possession charge is to work with an experienced defense attorney. A good attorney will know how to craft a defense for your particular situation and working with one can help make the whole process of being charged less scary.
Here at Leddy Law Firm I’m ready to help defend you from your gun possession charge. Give me a call at (803) 253-1595 to see what I can do to defend you.
**This article is not intended to be used as legal advice. If you have a legal problem or a criminal charge then you should consult directly with a SC licensed attorney**