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SC Constitutional Carry H.3594 Is Now Law! Updates You Need to Know


As of March 7th 2024, the long awaited, highly debated, and highly controversial South Carolina bill H. 3594 (2nd Amendment Preservation Act of 2024) has passed and was signed into law by Governor Henry McMaster. If you are unfamiliar with this bill, its provisions allow for any individual age 18 years of age or older who is not prohibited by the state or federal law from owning a firearm/ammunition, to own and carry on their person a handgun in an open or concealed fashion without a permit. I have gone through the process of combing through the bill H.3594 as written in law to provide you the reader with the high yield changes made by the bill and to also share my viewpoint and the views articulated from law enforcement officials in the state in regard to the passing of the law. It is important to know that this bill does not change the previously established conditions in which use of deadly force is deemed legal and justified. If you are needing to review this portion of the SC legal code it can be found here. South Carolina Legislature Online - Search (scstatehouse.gov)

 

 Transportation of Firearms

If you have taken an SC concealed weapons permit course prior to the passing of this bill, especially if it was mine, then you most definitely remember that prior law stipulated defined locations where it was lawful to carry a firearm in a vehicle if one was a permit holder vs a non-permit holder. Bill H.3594 now allows for the storage/transport/carry of firearms anywhere within an occupied or unoccupied vehicle, either open or concealed.

 

Interactions w/ Law Enforcement While Carrying an Open or Concealed Weapon

·       Previous law mandated that individuals with SC Concealed Weapons Permits announced to law enforcement officers that they were lawfully armed when an officer of the law made contact with them while conducting their official police duties. Under bill H.3594 individuals with permits or without permits are not required by law to notify an officer of a firearm about their person or in their vehicle.

 

·       Under bill H.3594 a law enforcement officer cannot lawfully stop or detail an individual for the sole reason of possessing a visible firearm. In order for a stop to occur the officer must have reasonable and articulable suspicion that the individual has committed a crime.

·       Under current law a current CWP holder is no longer required to carry their permit at all times when they are armed and are no longer required to present the physical permit to a law enforcement officer during an official interaction.

 

Prohibited Places of Firearms Carry

Prohibited places of firearms carry remain that same as previously outlined in law and include inside schools or school events not pertaining to firearms/ shooting sports, preschools/daycares, SC State House grounds, federal buildings, polling places on the day of an election, churches, law enforcement facilities including detention and correctional facilities, anywhere medical procedures are performed, courthouses, public buildings, office of or business meeting of the governing body of a county, public school district, municipality, or special purpose district, residence or dwelling of another person with expressed implied consent, and any place clearly marked with a sign prohibiting the carrying of a firearm.

These prohibited places and those exempt from these prohibitions are located in section 16-23-20 of bill H.3594

 

Increased Penalties for Unlawful Carry/Possession of A Firearm

Carry of firearms in prohibited places now are associated with the following heightened penalties.

(1) a misdemeanor and, upon conviction, must be fined not more than one thousand dollars

or imprisoned not more than one year, or both, for a first offense;

 (2) a misdemeanor and, upon conviction, must be imprisoned not more than three years

for a second offense; or

 (3) a felony and, upon conviction, must be imprisoned not more than five years for a third

or subsequent offense.

In addition, individuals guilty of offenses of unlawful carry of a weapon shall have an issued SC concealed weapons permit revoked for a period of up to 5 years.

 

Increased Felony Possession of Firearm Penalties

It is unlawful for anyone who has been convicted of a crime punishable by a term of imprisonment of more that 1 year to own a firearm or ammunition in the state of SC. These punishable crimes do not include, white collar offenses relating to unlawful business practices, crimes of this state or other jurisdiction that would be classified as a misdemeanor and punishable by a term of imprisonment of five years or less, or any crime that has been expunged unless the terms of expungement prohibit the individual from future ownership of firearms or ammunitions.

A person who violates the provisions of this section is guilty of a felony and, upon conviction must be fined not more than two thousand dollars or imprisoned not more than five years, or both.: 

(1) for a first offense, must be imprisoned not more than five years;

(2) for a second offense, must be imprisoned for a mandatory minimum of five years, but not more than twenty years.

(3) for a third or subsequent offense, must be imprisoned for a mandatory minimum of ten years, but not more than thirty years.

 

Enhanced Penalty for Firearms Crimes Committed by Individuals Without A SC Concealed Weapons Permit

A non-permitted person convicted of a crime involving a concealable weapon must be imprisoned for a period not to exceed 3 years. The term of imprisonment imposed for violating this section must be served consecutively to any term of imprisonment imposed for the underlying offense and may not exceed the actual sentence imposed for the underlying offense. This penalty does not apply to an individual with a valid South Carolina Concealed Permit at the time of the commission of the crime.

 

 

Loss or Theft of Concealed Weapons Permit

A permit holder is required by law to report to SLED regarding the loss or theft of permit within 48 hrs of when the permit holder became aware of the loss or theft. Those in violation of this provision are subject to a fine of $25.

 

Requirement to Report Lost or Stolen Firearm

Individuals who suffer loss or theft of a firearm must by law report the loss or theft within 10 days of becoming aware of the loss or theft to law enforcement agency with jurisdiction in the area in which the loss or theft occurred.

 

 

Are South Carolina Concealed Weapons Permits Made Obsolete

Absolutely not! In fact, it is highly encouraged that individuals who are interested in carrying a firearm seek professional training and obtain a permit. Benefits to those who follow through with obtaining a SC Concealed Carry Permit include; 1. Ability to carry a firearm in non-constitutional carry law states that have reciprocity with South Carolina, 2. Exempt from enhanced penalties for violations for deadly force use laws of SC, 3. Quicker process when attempting to purchasing a firearm or NFA item from a Federal Firearm Licensee(FFL) as permit holder has already been vetted by federal/state criminal background check, 4.Defense of having had professional training in the event of court case as pertaining to use of deadly force, 5. Educated on laws of the state pertaining to firearm carry/transport/deadly force from a SLED approved instructor. With provisions of H.3594 the state government has tasked SLED to arrange at least twice monthly concealed weapons courses, free of charge to citizens.

 

General Attitude of Law Enforcement Leaders Pertaining to the New Law

In general, leaders of the state’s many law enforcement agencies were in opposition to the passing of this law. Provisions that allow for individuals to not be required by law to disclose the presence of a weapon, or disallowing law enforcement to make contact with an individual with a visible weapon in public are viewed to only add to the complexity and danger of performing the job of a law enforcement officer. Many police also believe that training should be mandatory as once was in that there is a belief that citizens with good intentions will find themselves on the wrong side of the law simply because they are ignorant of the new updates and changes. Law enforcement agencies of the state have already begun conducting officer training to educate officers how to adapt to the changes of the new law.

 

My Personal Take on the Law

My concern regarding this law and its allowances simply revolves around training. Individual citizen training and education is paramount for this to be successful in curbing crime instead of adding to it.  In this setting I believe the old adage applies that “the road to hell was paved with good intentions.” Carrying a firearm and being proficient with it to be useful as a tool to defend oneself or other innocent people in public is no light charge. Proficiency with firearms is a perishable skill which will start to diminish the longer one goes without practice. I have encountered more than a handful of acquaintances that haven’t touched their firearm for a range trip or instruction class since the time they took it out to take a CWP course, in some cases this has been as longs as 6 months to a year. In my opinion for a novice shooter to increase skill they need a thoughtful fundamentals focused range session at least every 1-2 months and when not able to shoot, regular dry fire practice should be utilized. This range session can be achieved with a low round count of 1-2 boxes of ammunition. I would then recommend the average citizen to take some form of professional firearms instruction class to learn new skills/refine old skills at least twice per year.

 

For individuals who choose to open carry, you have a duty to be knowledgeable in weapons retention and to ensure your firearm doesn’t fall into bad hands and used to hurt others in public. When it comes to transport of weapons in vehicles, the citizen must be aware that the majority of gun crimes committed by criminals are with weapons stolen from vehicles in smash and grab crimes. Citizens, despite having the ability under law to store a weapon where they please in their occupied/unoccupied vehicle must be aware of the profound public safety consequences of a criminal getting access to their weapon from an unsecure location. Lastly with this new law citizens who choose to carry without permit must take it upon themselves to be knowledgeable of the laws of this state or they may fall prey to the associated enhanced penalties that come with violations of the provisions of this newly passed law. I hope this information proves to be useful for many and is shared amongst many a family member or friend. I think getting education out to good people is the only way that this bill can have a chance of having a positive outcome for the state of SC. Many great firearms instructors like myself stand ready to be of assistance in training and educating citizens like yourself in the responsible and lawful use of your firearm.

 


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