South Carolina gun laws are a study in contrasts. South Carolina is one of the more lenient pro-gun states in the nation, yet it also takes heat from pro-gun control groups because of the state’s record of gun violence.
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Last year, 24/7 Wall St. ranked South Carolina
10th for the most gun-related deaths and accidents among states. The Palmetto State also cracked the United States Centers for Disease Control and Prevention’s top 10 for states with the highest rates of gun violence, which covers use of firearms in all homicides, accidents and suicides. The CDC reported
that the state’s rate of gun-related deaths was 14.8 per 100,000 residents. Louisiana led the nation in gun death rate at 18.8 while Rhode Island’s rate was 50th at 3.0.
Pro-gun and anti-gun lobbyists and organizations can hotly debate the causes for South Carolina’s gun violence rates, but the state legislature and Governor Nikki Haley continue to adamantly support gun ownership and work with pro-Second Amendment groups like the National Rifle Association. South Carolina is acknowledged as a “shall-issue” concealed carry permit state. The state does not require residents to purchase a permit to buy handguns, rifles, or shotguns. South Carolina also legally protects residents who use firearms to defend themselves, their loved ones and their property from those who intrude on their home, business, or automobile.
South Carolina also recognizes comparable concealed carry gun laws from other states, according to the South Carolina Law Enforcement Division. Residents of reciprocal carry states may bear concealed guns in South Carolina if they own similar permits from their home state. Reciprocal carry states are Wyoming, West Virginia, Virginia, Tennessee, Texas, Ohio, North Carolina, Missouri, Michigan, Louisiana, Kentucky, Kansas, Florida, Arkansas, Arizona, and Alaska.
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What makes South Carolina gun laws more interesting is that the state does provide a couple of restrictions to its gun-friendly policies. South Carolina prohibits open carry, although it does not require a permit to store a loaded handgun in the glove compartment or console of a vehicle. It is also bans carrying a firearm onto public or private school property and inside publicly owned buildings unless residents seek and receive permission from the state.
While pro-gun control lobbyists and left-leaning political groups try to paint South Carolina as out of the mainstream on gun legislation, South Carolina’s gun laws are aligned with the majority of Americans. A December 2014 Pew Research Center poll
indicated that 57 percent of Americans think gun ownership protects people from various crimes. Slightly more than half believe it is “more important to protect the right of Americans to own guns than to control gun ownership,” according to Pew.
South Carolina is a politically gun-friendly state, as is the entire southern region of the U.S. along with the entire Southwest, Maine, Vermont, Montana, Idaho, Wyoming, Utah, Nevada, Kansas, Missouri, and North Dakota, and South Dakota. At the opposite end of the gun-control spectrum are California, New York, Connecticut, Maryland, New Jersey, Massachusetts, and New Hampshire.
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