South Carolina gun laws, like the gun laws of many states, are complex and easy to misunderstand. It’s important to do your research before purchasing a gun — particularly since the state does not have any statute of limitations on criminal prosecution. As FindLaw explains, South Carolina law allows most adults to own a firearm, but there are many restrictions to ownership. 

Those caught violating state laws concerning firearms could be guilty of a misdemeanor offense or a felony depending on the offense. 


Citizens in South Carolina typically have the right to own a firearm if they are at least 21 years of age; however, several factors can limit or preclude this right. Fugitives, those convicted of a violent crime and members of subversive organizations cannot legally own firearms. Alcoholics, addicts and the mentally incompetent have similar prohibitions. A court may also determine that certain individuals are unfit gun owners for various other reasons. 


Certain guns and ammunition are illegal to possess in South Carolina. These include sawed-off shotguns, machine guns and Teflon-coated ammunition, among others. Gun owners may never remove or obscure a weapon’s serial number — even if the weapon is legal to own. Defacing a firearm immediately abolishes legality. 


The ATF reports that South Carolina law does not allow the open carrying of firearms, but those with a Concealed Weapons Permit may carry a firearm under certain circumstances. Without a Concealed Weapons Permit, there are only a few places a person can have a firearm in South Carolina. 

In general, legal gun owners may keep or carry on their property or the property of another with the owner’s permission. This includes residences, social spaces and places of business. Legal gun owners may also carry a weapon in their vehicle in most cases, provided they store it in a closed compartment such as the trunk, glove compartment, saddlebag or center console. 

It is important to carefully research and understand gun laws in South Carolina or elsewhere before purchasing or carrying a firearm. Violating gun laws and regulations can result in a felony record and in significant jail time.