You know I am hot on this gun regulations thing. Let me spell out the so-called Regulations that South Carolina has. You can find these regulations at various web sites. Most of them are SC Government or South Carolina Law Enforcement Division web sites.
For the past twelve years gun regulations have actually been relaxing. The ban on assault weapons, a poorly written ban that did nothing about the assault weapons already in circulation, was allowed to lapse. We didn’t tighten it up. We just let it go.
In South Carolina, effective June 29, 2012, which means it was voted on much early. We abolished Article 3, Chapter 31, Title 23 of the South Carolina Articles of Law and Code of Laws. This abolished article detailed the licensing of gun dealers. In short, we decided to stop licensing gun dealers. You do have to have a Federal Firearms License to sell guns from a retail outlet, but South Carolina no longer licenses dealers. By the way, the Federal Firearms License requirement does not exist for private citizens, and that means people who sell guns at gun shows. That is why they call them gun shows, to get around the law by saying they are not dealers, even though all they are doing is dealing in guns.
There is a bunch of these relaxations I could go through, but I want to cut to the quick and just list what South Carolina’s gun laws are.
South Carolina is listed as a “shall issue” state.
- We do not require permits.
- We do not require licenses.
- We do not require a waiting period.
- We do not require registration of a gun.
- We do not really require a background check (more on this later).
Section 16-23-20 of the Code of Laws under SLED (South Carolina Law Enforcement Division) describes how a person may transport a gun. http://www.sled.sc.gov/SCStateGunLaws1.aspx?MenuID=CWP
It says who can move a gun and who cannot. Of course military people and police can. People who have a Conceal Carry Permit can. And frankly, anyone else can, provided they do not carry it openly in public and they are not a convicted Felon.
You can carry your gun from your home to your car, and from your car to your business. While in your car, you can keep your gun in the trunk, in the glove box or console, or in a locked gun carry case. The glove box or console must remain closed, except when asked by a law enforcement officer to retrieve your license or other materials.
In South Carolina, if you can legally transport a gun, you can buy it. It is really that simple.
You hear a lot about the background check. The South Carolina background check is specified in Section 16-23-30. It is illegal to sell a gun to a person who:
- Is under 18.
- Is not a citizen of South Carolina.
- Has been adjudicated as mentally incompetent.
- Has been convicted of a Felony.
- Is a “habitual drunkard.”
- Is a “drug abuser.”
- Is purchasing the gun to commit a crime.
Our background checks consist of nothing more that flashing the seller your driver’s license as the seller is not required to make a call to anyone to find out anything. The wording of the law is,
“It is unlawful to knowingly sell, offer to sell, deliver, lease, rent, barter, exchange or transport for sale . . . ”
In short, if you don’t know the buyer has a Felony conviction or that the buyer is an alcoholic, then you, the seller, are off the hook.
Additionally, none of the information that is contained within the so-called background check is recorded. There are no legal forms to fill out. There are no procedures required by the gun seller for determining if the buyer’s driver’s license is real, or for checking whether the individual is a convicted Felon or an alcoholic, et al. A conscientious dealer might ask the buyer these sort of questions, but the seller has to accept the buyer’s answers. There are no provisions, and more importantly, no requirements for verifying them.
The penalties for selling to someone who is prohibited from buying a gun are very light, even if the gun ends up used in a massacre. Up to, but not to exceed, $2,000.00, or two years in jail, or both if they want to make an example of you. Of course your attorney simply has to prove that you did not know the buyer shouldn’t be buying.
That’s pretty much it. In South Carolina, if you have a driver’s license you can walk into a gun shop and walk out with a gun and ammo in a matter of minutes. Guns are not registered. There is a requirement for “licensed dealers and pawn shops” to photo copy the buyer’s drivers license and mail or fax it to South Carolina Law Enforcement (SLED). However, we no longer license dealers, and more importantly a recent Supreme Court ruling requires all Law Enforcement divisions to destroy any such information within 24 hours of receiving it. Gun owners felt that information was an invasion of privacy and forced this ruling.
There are pages of law governing machine guns. These have been illegal for decades. But I just gave you the full run down of South Carolina’s regulations governing handguns, shotguns, rifles, and semiautomatic guns. Regulations that are toothless.