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South Carolina Gun Rights: Unlawful Carry Arrest | Grooms And Thomas | Civil & Criminal Attorney Myrtle Beach SC



South Carolina Gun Rights:
Unlawful Carry Arrest

What is an Unlawful Carry? Unfortunately for many visitors to the Myrtle Beach area they are asking that question for the first time while being arrested. The reason many are charged is because while they are carrying their firearm in accordance with their home state’s laws, as soon as they cross the border into South Carolina that same conduct becomes a criminal offense. For example, some of our neighboring States require that a firearm must be kept visible when transporting in a vehicle, such as being placed on the dashboard. That same conduct would result in an Unlawful Carry charge and arrest in South Carolina, and ignorance of the law might be helpful in mitigation, but it is not a valid legal defense.

Below is a brief overview of South Carolina’s Unlawful Carry laws, you will find the accompanying statute below for further information. If you have any questions please feel free to call Grooms and Thomas, LLC for more information at 843.444.5702

While South Carolina is arguably a gun friendly state compared to others, our laws regarding firearm use and possession are strictly enforced and carry severe penalties. Under SC 16-23-20 the charge of Unlawful Carry is a misdemeanor criminal charge which carries up to 1 year in prison and a fine of no more than $1,000.00. If you find yourself or a family charged with unlawful carry you would be wise to consult one of our attorneys for potential representation. We have represented many persons charged with Unlawful Carry and often there is a way to keep this charge from turning into a conviction which will remain on your criminal record indefinitely. 

For the sake of keeping this a simple blog post, let’s assume you are not a member of the military, a gun dealer or a hunter, etc. and you are wanting to know how the average citizen can legally transport their firearm in a vehicle while on vacation in Myrtle Beach, South Carolina.


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In South Carolina, assuming you are over 18 years of age, mentally competent, not a fugitive or a violent felon, and you haven’t been ordered not to possess a firearm by any Court, then you are allowed to keep a firearm in your vehicle without a permit if the firearm is properly stored. (see the Statute below for further clarity) The firearm must be kept in a closed and secured compartment such as a glove box, trunk, or closable container that is a part of the vehicle such as center console that latches closed. If pulled over do not attempt to retrieve the weapon, leave it where it is properly stored and before entering that compartment for any necessary paperwork you would be wise to calmly notify the officer of the gun’s existence and get his/her permission before you move in that direction to retrieve the requested paperwork. 

If you have a valid concealed weapons permit recognized by the State of South Carolina then you can keep your gun in your vehicle on or about your person, and it doesn’t have to be in a closed container.  See SC Section 16-23-20 9(a)(b) below for additional information. If you have questions about whether your concealed weapon permit is valid in South Carolina, then you should consult the South Carolina Law Enforcement Division at (803) 737-9000.


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SECTION 16-23-20

key excerpt :

(9) a person in a vehicle if the handgun is:
(a) secured in a closed glove compartment, closed console, closed trunk, or in a closed container secured by an integral fastener and transported in the luggage compartment of the vehicle; however, this item is not violated if the glove compartment, console, or trunk is opened in the presence of a law enforcement officer for the sole purpose of retrieving a driver’s license, registration, or proof of insurance. If the person has been issued a concealed weapon permit pursuant to Article 4, Chapter 31, Title 23, then the person also may secure his weapon under a seat in a vehicle, or in any open or closed storage compartment within the vehicle’s passenger compartment; or
(b) concealed on or about his person, and he has a valid concealed weapons permit pursuant to the provisions of Article 4, Chapter 31, Title 23;

Disclaimer: Every case is different, past results are no guarantee of any result. This blog is meant to be informative, but not indicative of any guarantees and no attorney client relationship can be achieved without entering into a formal representation agreement with Grooms and Thomas, LLC. 843.444.5702