7 Things You Need to Do When Buying a Gun in South Carolina

buy a gun in South Carolina

It’s relatively straightforward to buy a gun in South Carolina because you don’t need a license or permit to complete the process. The state has some basic laws you’ll have to follow, though, to ensure you’re legally allowed to carry your firearm in public.

Buying a gun in South Carolina means following federal background check laws. You’ll also have to reach the proper age before purchasing a weapon from a federally licensed dealer. (More on that below.) 

The good news is that these laws aren’t overly prohibitive if you have a clean criminal and mental health record. This guide will show you the steps to buy a gun in South Carolina.

How Background Checks Work in South Carolina

There will always be paperwork associated with buying a gun, even in states where permits or licenses aren’t necessary. The lone hoop you’ll have to jump through when purchasing a firearm in South Carolina is completing a background check. These checks only apply to purchases you make through licensed dealers in the state. Here are the details:

About the Check

South Carolina isn’t a point of contact state, so all background checks run through the FBI using the National Instant Criminal Background Check System (NICS). The firearm dealer will have you fill out a form and contact the FBI directly to complete the check. Your background check will usually take a few minutes but could extend for multiple days if further investigation is necessary.

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What It Searches For

The background check looks for items on your criminal, substance abuse, and mental health records that could prohibit you from owning a gun. The gist is that your background check will scan for felonies, domestic violence charges, substance abuse issues, and mental health red flags before allowing you to purchase a firearm. You can appeal the decision if you feel like the FBI unjustly denied your application.


There’s an exception to the federal background check requirement in South Carolina for those who hold a concealed carry permit in the state. Anyone who goes through the necessary training and pays for the license can skip the background check when purchasing a gun. Keep in mind that the license expires every five years, so renewal is necessary.

Your background check shouldn’t be overly stressful unless you have something on your record that prohibits you from owning a firearm in the United States. The NICS is available 17 hours per day, seven days a week, making it a highly efficient background check system.

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7 Steps to Buy a Gun in South Carolina

The gun-buying process in South Carolina starts before and continues after you complete your background check. Most of these steps come down to personal preference based on the type of firearm you wish to purchase. 

1. Know the Laws

Concealed Carry law

South Carolina doesn’t have many gun laws, but it’s a good idea to learn what’s in place before attempting to buy a firearm. There’s no waiting period, registration, or licensing requirement in the state, but you will have to be at least 21 to purchase a handgun or 18 to buy a long gun. Certain weapon types, like machine guns, sawed-off shotguns, and military firearms, are illegal in South Carolina.

2. Select a Gun

The next step is determining the gun type you wish to purchase. The laws are similar for handguns and long guns, except for the age requirement. Both weapon types require the same background check when buying from a licensed dealer. 

3. Choose a Seller

You can buy guns from federally licensed dealers and private sellers in South Carolina. Only licensed dealers require background checks, so you can skip the process when purchasing privately. It’s important to remember, though, that only dealers have brand new guns, so it’s far safer to buy through them.

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4. Determine a Payment Method

Firearms can be expensive, so you’ll want to ensure you have enough money before visiting a gun shop. You can usually pay with a credit card at a licensed dealer, but a private seller will likely require cash before finalizing the deal. 

5. Buy Your Firearm

It’s now time to buy your firearm and ammo. This part of the process works like a regular retail purchase because you’ve already completed the paperwork. You should be aware that you must lock the gun up during transportation unless you have the necessary training and permit to carry it with you.

6. Get Your Concealed Carry Permit

It’s incredibly advantageous to obtain your concealed carry permit in South Carolina because it allows you to bypass your background check. This permit also authorizes you to carry your weapon in your vehicle without locking it in the glove compartment or trunk. You’ll have to receive the necessary training, pass an eye exam, and pay the permit fee to receive your concealed carry certification in the state.

7. Consider New Legislation

Another benefit to obtaining your concealed carry permit is the open carry benefits it provides. HB 3094 came into law on August 15, 2021, making open carry legal for all concealed carry permit holders. Previous rules made open carry illegal for the state’s handgun owners.

Learning how to buy a gun in South Carolina is easy because the laws make it straightforward once you pass the background check. Concealed carry training and permits streamline it even further, though, by eliminating that additional step.

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Get Your Concealed Carry Training

South Carolina’s gun laws ensure that every concealed carry permit holder has adequate eyesight and has passed a training course. These laws will also apply to open carry, so now is the time to complete your course and grab this certification. 

Concealed Coalition offers the professional training required to get a concealed carry permit in South Carolina. Our program includes in-class learning sessions and live-fire training, as required by state law. Contact Concealed Coalition today to go over your concealed carry educational needs.

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