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Gun rights and gun ownership have been a hot topic for the last couple of years, and prosecutors and federal courts all over the country have been cracking down on gun-related crimes. Currently, firearm-related crimes make up 8% of all violent crimes. Because of all of the media discussion, spreading of rumors, and misinformation, South Carolina gun law can seem confusing to those who aren't aware of the numerous restrictions and weapons permits required by the state. Because of this, many South Carolinians can find themselves facing gun-related criminal charges for actions they may not have even known were against the law.
On top of this, being in possession of a firearm during another crime, such as robbery or assault, can add additional charges or increase the severity of your charges. Being in possession of a firearm, or carrying or using a firearm in connection with another crime can change simple assault into aggravated assault or assault with a deadly weapon quickly.
As long time residents of Greenville County, South Carolina, and experienced weapons and gun charges lawyers, the law offices of Touma Law Group have the experience and drive to fight your case for you. Whether it's simple illegal possession or accidental discharge of a firearm, to aggravated criminal charges involving a firearm, call us today to schedule a free case review.
What are the Gun Laws in South Carolina?
There are three, sometimes four, levels of gun laws, depending on where you live. Everyone is subject to federal gun laws and mandates, as well as the firearm-related laws in their state. On top of that, many counties have their own set of additional rules and regulations for carrying a firearm, and even more in-depth than that, many cities have even more rules that apply only inside of city limits. Because of this, it can be very hard to keep up and make sure that you are in compliance with any and all gun laws and regulations.
Inside of the city limits of Greenville, residents and other citizens are not allowed to:
- Carry (concealed or otherwise) any weapon primarily used for "the infliction of personal injury" without a permit
- Discharge a firearm, except in cases of emergency and/or self defense
- Brandish a firearm on public property, including streets, sidewalks, alleys, parks, or any other publicly owned area or property
These regulations do not apply to Greenville City law enforcement officers who are carrying their weapon, or using their weapon, while on duty. Otherwise, they apply to everyone and anyone, even those with concealed carry licenses in South Carolina.
On top of the Greenville city and Greenville county gun laws and regulations, South Carolina gun law has its own set of additional regulations:
- Residents do not need a permit to carry or possess a long gun, such as rifles and shotguns
- Residents are not required to register any of their firearms with the state
- Residents are required to pay for and obtain a concealed carry permit to carry a handgun
- Automatic guns, sawed-off shotguns, sawed-off rifles, and "military firearms" are banned in South Carolina
- It is illegal to point a firearm, loaded or unloaded, at another person at any point, except in the case of plays or other, similar performances
Staying within these regulations should keep you safe from facing any common firearm-related offenses or firearm charges. In most cases, failure to obey these rules and restrictions will result in the confiscation of the firearm in question, and can even lead to restrictions placed on your ability to purchase, own, or carry a firearm. Various charges from illegal possession of a firearm to illegally discharging your firearm can see you jumping through hoops to be able to legally own a firearm again.
I Was Carrying a Firearm During the Commission of a Crime
Being in possession of a firearm during a crime can cause additional problems and charges. Even if you do not discharge your firearm, just the threat of brandishing your firearm or telling someone you are in possession of a firearm can raise the degree of your charges, and your sentencing.
A weapons charge alone can be a lot to deal with, but a simple assault misdemeanor can quickly turn into aggregated assault or assault with a deadly weapon when a gun is involved, both of which are a federal criminal offense and considered a felony. Any crime involving a firearm, whether or not it is discharged, is considered a violent crime, and could be charged as a felony gun crime.
How Can I Avoid Gun Charges?
In South Carolina, your first step should be making sure you are in possession of the proper permit (concealed carry license) in order to be able to carry a handgun. You should also make sure your firearms are not banned in the state.
The most common firearm offense is basic weapon-related charges, such as accidental discharges, illegal discharges, or being in illegal possession of a firearm, followed closely by aggravated assault, or assault with a deadly weapon. If you believe that you may be in a situation in which an assault or a fight may happen, it may be best to leave your firearm at home.
While South Carolina does have a castle doctrine in place, having to use your firearm in the event that an assault is committed against you can be tricky, and castle doctrines aren't a free-for-all that allows you to discharge your weapon or brandish it without reproach.
Assault With a Deadly Weapon
Any instrument that is intended to inflict deadly force is defined as a "deadly weapon." This includes guns and knives but can include more unconventional objects. For example, the Supreme Court ruled that a rock could be classified as a deadly weapon in Acers v. United States in 1896. Texas courts even classified a floor as a deadly weapon during Stanul v. State due to the nature of the attack. Threatening or assaulting someone with any weapon, be it a gun or improvised object, can result in very serious charges being brought against you.
Owning a Gun is Your Right, Let Us Help You Keep it
One of the main consequences of any firearm offenses, whether they're simple misdemeanors or you've exercised your rights under the Castle Doctrine, or you've lost your rights to own or possess a firearm and want to regain them, the law offices of Touma Law Group are ready to help you.
It is your right to purchase and possess a firearm in the United States and in the state of South Carolina. Whether you're fighting to keep that right, to regain your right, or against any other number of firearm-related charges, you need an experienced and tenacious criminal defense attorney in Greenville who will follow every avenue to protect your right to bear arms. As criminal defense attorneys, with years of experience in Greenville County and South Carolina as a whole, we've seen it all and can help you build the perfect defense to win your case and reach your goals.