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Legal Information: South Carolina

State Gun Laws

Updated: 
March 26, 2018

If the abuser has been convicted of a crime, can s/he keep or buy a gun?

South Carolina law makes it illegal for someone to have or buy any firearm or ammunition if s/he:

  1. was convicted in South Carolina (or of a similar crime in another state) of domestic violence in the first degree or domestic violence of a high and aggravated nature;
  2. was convicted in South Carolina of domestic violence in the second degree (or of a similar crime in another state) and the judge:
  3. was convicted in South Carolina of domestic violence in the third degree (or of a similar crime in another state) and at the time of sentencing, the judge:
    •  specifically ordered that the person is prohibited from possessing a firearm or ammunition.*

In addition, South Carolina state law says that a person cannot have or buy a handgun if s/he:

  • has been convicted of a "crime of violence" in any state or territory, which includes:
    • murder;
    • manslaughter (except negligent manslaughter arising out of traffic accidents);
    • rape;
    • mayhem;
    • kidnapping;
    • burglary;
    • robbery;
    • housebreaking;
    • assault with intent to kill, commit rape, or rob;
    • assault with a dangerous weapon; or 
    • assault with intent to commit any offense punishable by imprisonment for more than one year; or
  • is a fugitive from justice (someone who fled from any law enforcement officer to avoid prosecution or imprisonment for a crime of violence).**

Note: The prohibitions against having a firearm or ammunition, as explained in numbers 1 - 3, above, generally only last for a limited period of time.***  See If the abuser is prohibited from having a firearm or ammunition, how long does the prohibition last? for more information. 

Also, federal laws, which apply to all states, restrict a person's right to have a gun under certain circumstances such as when the abuser has been convicted of a felony or certain domestic violence-related crimes.  Go to Federal Gun Laws to get more information.

* S.C. Code § 16-25-30(A)
** S.C. Code §§ 16-23-30(A)(1) & (B); 16-23-10(3),(4)
*** S.C. Code § 16-25-30(E)

 

How can I find out if the abuser has been convicted of a crime?

Domestic violence misdemeanor and felony records are open to the public, but they are not always easy to access. If you know the exact courthouse where the abuser may have been convicted, you can go to the courthouse and ask the clerk of court for access to those records.

Domestic violence misdemeanor and felony records are also kept in the National Instant Criminal Background Check System (NICS). However, no one other than law enforcement officials and licensed firearm sellers are allowed to search the NICS. Your local police department may be willing to search NICS for you if you ask, but they are not required to do so.

To read more about the NICS, please see the question, What will happen if the abuser tries to purchase a gun?