ARTICLE 4
Concealed Weapon Permits

SECTION 23-31-205. Name.

This article may be cited as the “Law Abiding Citizens Self-Defense Act of 1996”.

HISTORY: 1996 Act No. 464, Section 1.

SECTION 23-31-210. Definitions.

As used in this article:

(1) “Resident” means an individual who is present in South Carolina with the intention of making a permanent home in South Carolina or military personnel on permanent change of station orders.

(2) “Qualified nonresident” means an individual who owns real property in South Carolina, but who resides in another state.

(3) “Picture identification” means:

(a) a valid driver’s license or photographic identification card issued by the state in which the applicant resides; or

(b) an official photographic identification card issued by the Department of Revenue, a federal or state law enforcement agency, an agency of the United States Department of Defense, or the United States Department of State.

(4) “Proof of training” means an original document or certified copy of the document supplied by an applicant that certifies that he is either:

(a) a person who, within three years before filing an application, successfully has completed a basic or advanced handgun education course offered by a state, county, or municipal law enforcement agency or a nationally recognized organization that promotes gun safety. This education course must include, but is not limited to:

(i) information on the statutory and case law of this State relating to handguns and to the use of deadly force;

(ii) information on handgun use and safety;

(iii) information on the proper storage practice for handguns with an emphasis on storage practices that reduces the possibility of accidental injury to a child; and

(iv) the actual firing of the handgun in the presence of the instructor;

(b) a person who demonstrates any of the following must comply with the provisions of subitem (a)(i) only:

(i) a person who demonstrates the completion of basic military training provided by any branch of the United States military who produces proof of his military service through the submission of a DD214 form;

(ii) a retired law enforcement officer who produces proof that he is a graduate of the Criminal Justice Academy or that he was a law enforcement officer prior to the requirement for graduation from the Criminal Justice Academy; or

(iii) a retired state or federal law enforcement officer who produces proof of graduation from a federal or state academy that includes firearms training as a graduation requirement;

(c) an instructor certified by the National Rifle Association or another SLED-approved competent national organization that promotes the safe use of handguns;

(d) a person who can demonstrate to the Director of SLED or his designee that he has a proficiency in both the use of handguns and state laws pertaining to handguns;

(e) an active duty police handgun instructor;

(f) a person who has a SLED-certified or approved competitive handgun shooting classification; or

(g) a member of the active or reserve military, or a member of the National Guard.

SLED shall promulgate regulations containing general guidelines for courses and qualifications for instructors which would satisfy the requirements of this item. For purposes of subitems (a) and (c), “proof of training” is not satisfied unless the organization and its instructors meet or exceed the guidelines and qualifications contained in the regulations promulgated by SLED pursuant to this item.

(5) “Concealable weapon” means a firearm having a length of less than twelve inches measured along its greatest dimension that must be carried in a manner that is hidden from public view in normal wear of clothing except when needed for self-defense, defense of others, and the protection of real or personal property.

(6) “Proof of ownership of real property” means a certified current document from the county assessor of the county in which the property is located verifying ownership of the real property. SLED must determine the appropriate document that fulfills this requirement.

HISTORY: 1996 Act No. 464, Section 1; 2002 Act No. 274, Section 3; 2006 Act No. 347, Section 1, eff June 9, 2006; 2014 Act No. 123 (S.308), Section 2.A, eff February 11, 2014.

Effect of Amendment

The 2006 amendment added item (2) defining “Qualified nonresident”, redesignated items (2) to (5) as items (3) to (6), and added item (7) defining “Proof of ownership of real property”.

2014 Act No. 123, Section 2.A, in subsection (3)(a), substituted “license or photographic identification card” for “license, or if the applicant is a qualified nonresident, a valid driver’s license”; deleted former subsection (4), definition for “proof of residence”; redesignated the remaining subsections accordingly; in subsection (4), definition of “proof of training”, in paragraph (a), substituted “successfully has” for “has successfully”, and deleted “be a minimum of eight hours and must” before “education course must”, added paragraph (b), and deleted “who has had handgun training in the previous three years” from the end of paragraph (g).

SECTION 23-31-215. Issuance of permits.

(A) Notwithstanding any other provision of law, except subject to subsection (B), SLED must issue a permit, which is no larger than three and one-half inches by three inches in size, to carry a concealable weapon to a resident or qualified nonresident who is at least twenty-one years of age and who is not prohibited by state law from possessing the weapon upon submission of:

(1) a completed application signed by the person;

(2) a photocopy of a driver’s license or photographic identification card;

(3) proof of residence or if the person is a qualified nonresident, proof of ownership of real property in this State;

(4) proof of actual or corrected vision rated at 20/40 within six months of the date of application or, in the case of a person licensed to operate a motor vehicle in this State, presentation of a valid driver’s license;

(5) proof of training;

(6) payment of a fifty-dollar application fee. This fee must be waived for disabled veterans and retired law enforcement officers; and

(7) a complete set of fingerprints unless, because of a medical condition verified in writing by a licensed medical doctor, a complete set of fingerprints is impossible to submit. In lieu of the submission of fingerprints, the applicant must submit the written statement from a licensed medical doctor specifying the reason or reasons why the applicant’s fingerprints may not be taken. If all other qualifications are met, the Chief of SLED may waive the fingerprint requirements of this item. The statement of medical limitation must be attached to the copy of the application retained by SLED. A law enforcement agency may charge a fee not to exceed five dollars for fingerprinting an applicant.

(B) Upon submission of the items required by subsection (A), SLED must conduct or facilitate a local, state, and federal fingerprint review of the applicant. SLED also must conduct a background check of the applicant through notification to and input from the sheriff of the county where the applicant resides or if the applicant is a qualified nonresident, where the applicant owns real property in this State. The sheriff within ten working days after notification by SLED, may submit a recommendation on an application. Before making a determination whether or not to issue a permit under this article, SLED must consider the recommendation provided pursuant to this subsection. If the fingerprint review and background check are favorable, SLED must issue the permit.

(C) SLED shall issue a written statement to an unqualified applicant specifying its reasons for denying the application within ninety days from the date the application was received; otherwise, SLED shall issue a concealable weapon permit. If an applicant is unable to comply with the provisions of Section 23-31-210(4), SLED shall offer the applicant a handgun training course that satisfies the requirements of Section 23-31-210(4). The course shall cost fifty dollars. SLED shall use the proceeds to defray the training course’s operating costs. If a permit is granted by operation of law because an applicant was not notified of a denial within the ninety-day notification period, the permit may be revoked upon written notification from SLED that sufficient grounds exist for revocation or initial denial.

(D) Denial of an application may be appealed. The appeal must be in writing and state the basis for the appeal. The appeal must be submitted to the Chief of SLED within thirty days from the date the denial notice is received. The chief shall issue a written decision within ten days from the date the appeal is received. An adverse decision shall specify the reasons for upholding the denial and may be reviewed by the Administrative Law Court pursuant to Article 5, Chapter 23, Title 1, upon a petition filed by an applicant within thirty days from the date of delivery of the division’s decision.

(E) SLED must make permit application forms available to the public. A permit application form shall require an applicant to supply:

(1) name, including maiden name if applicable;

(2) date and place of birth;

(3) sex;

(4) race;

(5) height;

(6) weight;

(7) eye and hair color;

(8) current residence address; and

(9) all residence addresses for the three years preceding the application date.

(F) The permit application form shall require the applicant to certify that:

(1) he is not a person prohibited under state law from possessing a weapon;

(2) he understands the permit is revoked and must be surrendered immediately to SLED if the permit holder becomes a person prohibited under state law from possessing a weapon; and

(3) all information contained in his application is true and correct to the best of his knowledge.

(G) Medical personnel, law enforcement agencies, organizations offering handgun education courses pursuant to Section 23-31-210(4), and their personnel, who in good faith provide information regarding a person’s application, must be exempt from liability that may arise from issuance of a permit; provided, however, a weapons instructor must meet the requirements established in Section 23-31-210(4) in order to be exempt from liability under this subsection.

(H) A permit application must be submitted in person, by mail, or online to SLED headquarters which shall verify the legibility and accuracy of the required documents. If an applicant submits his application online, SLED may continue to make all contact with that applicant through online communications.

(I) SLED must maintain a list of all permit holders and the current status of each permit. SLED may release the list of permit holders or verify an individual’s permit status only if the request is made by a law enforcement agency to aid in an official investigation, or if the list is required to be released pursuant to a subpoena or court order. SLED may charge a fee not to exceed its costs in releasing the information under this subsection. Except as otherwise provided in this subsection, a person in possession of a list of permit holders obtained from SLED must destroy the list.

(J) A permit is valid statewide unless revoked because the person has:

(1) become a person prohibited under state law from possessing a weapon;

(2) moved his permanent residence to another state and no longer owns real property in this State;

(3) voluntarily surrendered the permit; or

(4) been charged with an offense that, upon conviction, would prohibit the person from possessing a firearm. However, if the person subsequently is found not guilty of the offense, then his permit must be reinstated at no charge.

Once a permit is revoked, it must be surrendered to a sheriff, police department, a SLED agent, or by certified mail to the Chief of SLED. A person who fails to surrender his permit in accordance with this subsection is guilty of a misdemeanor and, upon conviction, must be fined twenty-five dollars.

(K) A permit holder must have his permit identification card in his possession whenever he carries a concealable weapon. When carrying a concealable weapon pursuant to Article 4, Chapter 31, Title 23, a permit holder must inform a law enforcement officer of the fact that he is a permit holder and present the permit identification card when an officer:

(1) identifies himself as a law enforcement officer; and

(2) requests identification or a driver’s license from a permit holder.

A permit holder immediately must report the loss or theft of a permit identification card to SLED headquarters. A person who violates the provisions of this subsection is guilty of a misdemeanor and, upon conviction, must be fined twenty-five dollars.

(L) SLED shall issue a replacement for lost, stolen, damaged, or destroyed permit identification cards after the permit holder has updated all information required in the original application and the payment of a five-dollar replacement fee. Any change of permanent address must be communicated in writing to SLED within ten days of the change accompanied by the payment of a fee of five dollars to defray the cost of issuance of a new permit. SLED shall then issue a new permit with the new address. A permit holder’s failure to notify SLED in accordance with this subsection constitutes a misdemeanor punishable by a twenty-five dollar fine. The original permit shall remain in force until receipt of the corrected permit identification card by the permit holder, at which time the original permit must be returned to SLED.

(M) A permit issued pursuant to this section does not authorize a permit holder to carry a concealable weapon into a:

(1) law enforcement, correctional, or detention facility;

(2) courthouse or courtroom;

(3) polling place on election days;

(4) office of or the business meeting of the governing body of a county, public school district, municipality, or special purpose district;

(5) school or college athletic event not related to firearms;

(6) daycare facility or preschool facility;

(7) place where the carrying of firearms is prohibited by federal law;

(8) church or other established religious sanctuary unless express permission is given by the appropriate church official or governing body;

(9) hospital, medical clinic, doctor’s office, or any other facility where medical services or procedures are performed unless expressly authorized by the employer; or

(10) place clearly marked with a sign prohibiting the carrying of a concealable weapon on the premises pursuant to Sections 23-31-220 and 23-31-235. Except that a property owner or an agent acting on his behalf, by express written consent, may allow individuals of his choosing to enter onto property regardless of any posted sign to the contrary. A person who violates a provision of this item, whether the violation is wilful or not, only may be charged with a violation of Section 16-11-620 and must not be charged with or penalized for a violation of this subsection.

Except as provided for in item (10), a person who wilfully violates a provision of this subsection is guilty of a misdemeanor and, upon conviction, must be fined not less than one thousand dollars or imprisoned not more than one year, or both, at the discretion of the court and have his permit revoked for five years.

Nothing contained in this subsection may be construed to alter or affect the provisions of Sections 10-11-320, 16-23-420, 16-23-430, 16-23-465, 44-23-1080, 44-52-165, 50-9-830, and 51-3-145.

(N) Valid out-of-state permits to carry concealable weapons held by a resident of a reciprocal state must be honored by this State, provided, that the reciprocal state requires an applicant to successfully pass a criminal background check and a course in firearm training and safety. A resident of a reciprocal state carrying a concealable weapon in South Carolina is subject to and must abide by the laws of South Carolina regarding concealable weapons. SLED shall maintain and publish a list of those states as the states with which South Carolina has reciprocity.

(O) A permit issued pursuant to this article is not required for a person:

(1) specified in Section 16-23-20, items (1) through (5) and items (7) through (11);

(2) carrying a self-defense device generally considered to be nonlethal including the substance commonly referred to as “pepper gas”; or

(3) carrying a concealable weapon in a manner not prohibited by law.

(P) Upon renewal, a permit issued pursuant to this article is valid for five years. Subject to subsection (Q), SLED shall renew a currently valid permit upon:

(1) payment of a fifty-dollar renewal fee by the applicant. This fee must be waived for disabled veterans and retired law enforcement officers;

(2) completion of the renewal application; and

(3) picture identification or facsimile copy thereof.

(Q) Upon submission of the items required by subsection (P), SLED must conduct or facilitate a state and federal background check of the applicant. If the background check is favorable, SLED must renew the permit.

(R) No provision contained within this article shall expand, diminish, or affect the duty of care owed by and liability accruing to, as may exist at law immediately before the effective date of this article, the owner of or individual in legal possession of real property for the injury or death of an invitee, licensee, or trespasser caused by the use or misuse by a third party of a concealable weapon. Absence of a sign prohibiting concealable weapons shall not constitute negligence or establish a lack of duty of care.

(S) At least thirty days before a permit issued pursuant to this article expires, SLED shall notify the permit holder by mail or online if permitted by subsection (H) at the permit holder’s address of record that the permit is set to expire along with notification of the permit holder’s opportunity to renew the permit pursuant to the provisions of subsections (P) and (Q).

(T) During the first quarter of each calendar year, SLED must publish a report of the following information regarding the previous calendar year:

(1) the number of permits;

(2) the number of permits that were issued;

(3) the number of permit applications that were denied;

(4) the number of permits that were renewed;

(5) the number of permit renewals that were denied;

(6) the number of permits that were suspended or revoked; and

(7) the name, address, and county of a person whose permit was revoked, including the reason for the revocation pursuant to subsection (J)(1).

The report must include a breakdown of such information by county.

(U) A concealable weapon permit holder whose permit has been expired for no more than one year may not be charged with a violation of Section 16-23-20 but must be fined not more than one hundred dollars.

HISTORY: 1996 Act No. 464, Section 1; 1997 Act No. 39, Section 2; 2002 Act No. 274, Section 4; 2005 Act No. 154, Section 1; 2006 Act No. 347, Section 2, eff June 9, 2006; 2008 Act No. 202, Sections 1, 2, eff April 16, 2008; 2008 Act No. 349, Section 1, eff June 16, 2008; 2014 Act No. 123 (S.308), Section 2.B, eff February 11, 2014.

Effect of Amendment

The 2006 amendment added the references to qualified non-residents in subsection (A) in the introduction and in subparagraph (3), subsection (B), subparagraph (E)(8), subparagraph (F)(3), subparagraph (P)(3), and subsection (S).

The first 2008 amendment rewrote subsection (I) to restrict the circumstances upon which SLED can release its list of permit holders; and added subsection (T).

The second 2008 amendment rewrote subsection (N) to require that the reciprocal state require firearm training and a criminal background check.

2014 Act No. 123, Section 2.B, amended subsections (A), (B), (C), (D), (E), (F), (G), (H), (K), (M), (O), (P), (Q), (S), (T), and added subsection (U).

SECTION 23-31-216. Collection and retention of fees.

The State Law Enforcement Division shall collect, retain, expend, and carry forward all fees associated with the concealable weapon application, renewal, and replacement of the permit, as provided pursuant to this article.

HISTORY: 1997 Act No. 39, Section 1; 1999 Act No. 100, Part II, Section 18; 2008 Act No. 353, Section 2, Pt 19C, eff July 1, 2009.

Effect of Amendment

The 2008 amendment added “expend,” and substituted “pursuant to” for “for in”.

SECTION 23-31-217. Effect on Section 16-23-20.

Nothing in this article shall affect the provisions of Section 16-23-20.

HISTORY: 1996 Act No. 464, Section 7.

SECTION 23-31-220. Right to allow or permit concealed weapons upon premises; signs.

Nothing contained in this article shall in any way be construed to limit, diminish, or otherwise infringe upon:

(1) the right of a public or private employer to prohibit a person who is licensed under this article from carrying a concealable weapon upon the premises of the business or work place or while using any machinery, vehicle, or equipment owned or operated by the business;

(2) the right of a private property owner or person in legal possession or control to allow or prohibit the carrying of a concealable weapon upon his premises.

The posting by the employer, owner, or person in legal possession or control of a sign stating “No Concealable Weapons Allowed” shall constitute notice to a person holding a permit issued pursuant to this article that the employer, owner, or person in legal possession or control requests that concealable weapons not be brought upon the premises or into the work place. A person who brings a concealable weapon onto the premises or work place in violation of the provisions of this paragraph may be charged with a violation of Section 16-11-620. In addition to the penalties provided in Section 16-11-620, a person convicted of a second or subsequent violation of the provisions of this paragraph must have his permit revoked for a period of one year. The prohibition contained in this section does not apply to persons specified in Section 16-23-20, item (1).

HISTORY: 1996 Act No. 464, Section 8.

SECTION 23-31-225. Carrying concealed weapons into residences or dwellings.

No person who holds a permit issued pursuant to Article 4, Chapter 31, Title 23 may carry a concealable weapon into the residence or dwelling place of another person without the express permission of the owner or person in legal control or possession, as appropriate. A person who violates this provision is guilty of a misdemeanor and, upon conviction, must be fined not less than one thousand dollars or imprisoned for not more than one year, or both, at the discretion of the court and have his permit revoked for five years.

HISTORY: 1996 Act No. 464, Section 12.

SECTION 23-31-230. Carrying concealed weapons between automobile and accommodation.

Notwithstanding any provision of law, any person may carry a concealable weapon from an automobile or other motorized conveyance to a room or other accommodation he has rented and upon which an accommodations tax has been paid.

HISTORY: 1996 Act No. 464, Section 14.

SECTION 23-31-235. Sign requirements.

(A) Notwithstanding any other provision of this article, any requirement of or allowance for the posting of signs prohibiting the carrying of a concealable weapon upon any premises shall only be satisfied by a sign expressing the prohibition in both written language interdict and universal sign language.

(B) All signs must be posted at each entrance into a building where a concealable weapon permit holder is prohibited from carrying a concealable weapon and must be:

(1) clearly visible from outside the building;

(2) eight inches wide by twelve inches tall in size;

(3) contain the words “NO CONCEALABLE WEAPONS ALLOWED” in black one-inch tall uppercase type at the bottom of the sign and centered between the lateral edges of the sign;

(4) contain a black silhouette of a handgun inside a circle seven inches in diameter with a diagonal line that runs from the lower left to the upper right at a forty-five degree angle from the horizontal;

(5) a diameter of a circle; and

(6) placed not less than forty inches and not more than sixty inches from the bottom of the building’s entrance door.

(C) If the premises where concealable weapons are prohibited does not have doors, then the signs contained in subsection (A) must be:

(1) thirty-six inches wide by forty-eight inches tall in size;

(2) contain the words “NO CONCEALABLE WEAPONS ALLOWED” in black three- inch tall uppercase type at the bottom of the sign and centered between the lateral edges of the sign;

(3) contain a black silhouette of a handgun inside a circle thirty-four inches in diameter with a diagonal line that is two inches wide and runs from the lower left to the upper right at a forty-five degree angle from the horizontal and must be a diameter of a circle whose circumference is two inches wide;

(4) placed not less than forty inches and not more than ninety-six inches above the ground;

(5) posted in sufficient quantities to be clearly visible from any point of entry onto the premises.

HISTORY: 1996 Act No. 464, Section 13; 2002 Act No. 274, Section 5.

SECTION 23-31-240. Persons allowed to carry concealed weapon while on duty.

Notwithstanding any other provision contained in this article, the following persons who possess a valid permit pursuant to this article may carry a concealable weapon anywhere within this State, when carrying out the duties of their office:

(1) active Supreme Court justices;

(2) active judges of the court of appeals;

(3) active circuit court judges;

(4) active family court judges;

(5) active masters-in-equity;

(6) active probate court judges;

(7) active magistrates;

(8) active municipal court judges;

(9) active federal judges;

(10) active administrative law judges;

(11) active solicitors and assistant solicitors; and

(12) active workers’ compensation commissioners.

HISTORY: 1998 Act No. 297, Section 5.