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Oconee County Sheriff’s Office Provides Information on New Constitutional Carry Law

(Walhalla, SC)-------------------------------------On Thursday, March 7th, South Carolina Governor Henry McMaster signed a bill into law which made South Carolina a Constitutional Carry state.  The law took effect immediately after the Governor signature.


Due to some questions that may arise from our citizens, the Oconee County Sheriff’s Office is providing today some information in relation to the new law.


According to the Oconee County Sheriff Mike Crenshaw, the new law enables those 18 years of age or older who are not otherwise prohibited from possessing a firearm to carry a firearm, either openly or concealed, without a concealed weapons permit, without training and where it is lawful for them to do so.  Also, anyone who meets the same criteria can store a firearm anywhere inside of a vehicle without a permit as well. 


“An important key is that the adult must not be prohibited, by law, from possessing a firearm in order to carry it, with or without a permit,” says Sheriff Crenshaw.  “In the new law, there are still going to be restrictions in regards to places where someone can carry a firearm, whether open or concealed.  Such restricted locations are, for example, schools, churches, courthouses, law enforcement facilities such as detention centers and correctional facilities, anywhere medical procedures are performed, public buildings or any place clearly marked with a sign prohibiting the carrying of a firearm.”


Sheriff Crenshaw also says that mandatory minimum penalties have been increased as well on a Felon in Possession of a Firearm charge.  According to South Carolina law, it is unlawful for a person who has been convicted of a crime punishable by a maximum term of imprisonment of more than one year to possess a firearm or ammunition within this State.


Plus, the law establishes an increased penalty for a person who commits a crime involving a firearm and does not have a valid Concealed Weapons Permit.  There are also increased, graduated penalties for those charged with Unlawful Possession/Carrying of a Firearm.

“Citizens may have a question in relation to retaining their valid Concealed Weapons Permit,” according to Sheriff Crenshaw.  “The current CWP program that is operated by the South Carolina Law Enforcement Division will still be in operation and those who wish to obtain a Concealed Weapons Permit can do so.  If you have a current and valid CWP, we recommend you maintain your CWP due to reciprocity laws in other states and for the easier purchase of a firearm from a dealer.  Under the new law, individuals 18 years of age or older will be eligible to apply for a Concealed Weapons Permit.”


Additional provisions of the new Constitutional Carry law are as follows:


· Possession of a firearm alone, or because a firearm is visible, does not provide law enforcement with a reason to stop someone unless the officer has reasonable suspicion, backed up by articulable facts, that a crime has occurred. 

· Someone who has a CWP or a person carrying a firearm, without a permit, does not have to notify law enforcement that they are in possession of a firearm. 

· A Concealed Weapons Permit holder is not required to carry that permit or disclose their status as a permit holder to a law enforcement officer. 

· SLED will provide a free statewide concealed weapon permit training course, at least twice a month in every county in the state, for the issuance of a CWP. 

· SLED will be required to distribute a document to retailers that are federally licensed to deal or sell firearms, and which will be provided to gun purchasers, which outlines the process of gun owners to obtain a concealed weapons permit and for the allowance of law-abiding gun owners to carry their weapons without a permit.  The document will also outline the additional criminal penalties for someone charged with a crime involving a concealable weapon.  SLED will also conduct a regular, statewide marketing campaign to inform South Carolinians of the same information contained in the document that will be distributed to gun retailers.

· A requirement that any loss or theft of a firearm(s) has to be reported to the appropriate law enforcement agency within ten days of discovery by the person who is the owner or the lawful possessor of the firearm(s) that is lost or stolen.  Included in that reporting must be the circumstances of the loss or theft. 

· Clerks of Court and Public Defenders have been added to the list of officials who can carry a firearm with a valid CWP anywhere in the state, except into a local or state correctional facility.



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