South Carolina Passes Permitless Gun Carry Law

The governor of South Carolina has signed a bill to allow for citizens to carry a gun without receiving permits from the government, making it the 29th American state to pass a constitutional carry law.

The new law, signed by Republican Gov. Henry McMaster on March 7, cracks down on illegal gun possession while paving the way for South Carolina residents to legally carry their firearms without needing explicit permits granted by the state government.

In a statement posted to X, McMaster explained that the legislation will establish “increased penalties” for the illegal use of firearms and criminal possession and “expands the Second Amendment rights of our law-abiding citizens.” The bill will also provide greater assistance for law enforcement and legal officials to arrest and prosecute “career violent criminals.”

Under House Bill 3594, American citizens who are at least 18 years old are eligible to carry a gun in public without government-issued approval or permits. However, citizens are not allowed to openly carry in certain places such as school buildings, courthouses and polling locations on election days. Those who desire to obtain a permit despite the law are still able to do so.

It was passed in the state House on March 5 with a vote of 86-33, then the following day in the Senate with a 28-18 vote. It is supported by the National Rifle Association (NRA).

In a statement issued on March 6, when the bill was sent to the governor’s desk, the NRA expressed gratitude to state Rep. Bobby Cox (R), who is the primary author of the bill, and his co-sponsors who promoted the legislation.

Cox told the media that the governor’s signature on the bill is “a long and hard-fought victory” for the people of South Carolina. He emphasized its official endorsement of state leaders’ view that residents “should never require” permission from the government to “defend themselves, their families and their communities.”

South Carolina’s legislation is the second of its kind to be signed by a Republican governor in the span of one week. Gov. Jeff Landry of Louisiana signed a similar bill on March 5. The bill is the 29th of its kind to be passed in the states.

Initially, police officers expressed concern for the legislation that would allow more people to carry firearms, citing potential confusion about threats when working a crime scene. The bill then added provisions to ensure law enforcement officers are still able to complete their duties effectively and added funding for free firearm training.