COLUMBIA, S.C. (March 7, 2024) – Today, South Carolina Gov. Henry McMaster signed bill into law that legalizes permitless carry in the state. The enactment of a so-called “constitutional carry” law can also foster an environment more hostile to federal gun control.

Rep. Bobby Cox and 68 cosponsors prefiled House Bill 3594 (H3594) last year and it carried over to the 2024 session. The law allows adults legally allowed to own a firearm to carry a weapon concealed or openly without a state-issued permit. Currently, South Carolina gun owners must first attend training through a certified South Carolina CWP instructor before they can get a permit.

On March 7, both the House and the Senate approved the final version of the bill. With McMaster’s signature, the law goes into immediate effect.

Among the Senate amendments were stiffer penalties for convicted felons illegally possessing firearms or ammunition. “It’s not perfect. We wanted some things removed from the bill, but for South Carolina, it was a big step. Now we work to clean it up,” the South Carolina 2nd Amendment Coalition said in a post on X.

Another amendment created what the South Carolina 2nd Amendment Coalition called “a two-tiered system for gun owners.” Individuals without permits will face stiffer penalties for violating gun laws than those with state-issued permits.

The law also includes provisions regulating where firearms can be carried in the state and where they’re prohibited, such as courthouses and schools. It would also be illegal to bring into businesses that specifically state they are a gun-free establishment.


While permitless carry bills do not directly affect federal gun control, the widespread passage of permitless concealed carry laws in states subtly undermines federal efforts to regulate guns. As we’ve seen with marijuana and industrial hemp, a federal regulation becomes ineffective when states ignore it and pass laws encouraging the prohibited activity anyway.

The federal government lacks the enforcement power necessary to maintain its ban, and people will willingly take on the small risk of federal sanctions if they know the state will not interfere. This increases when the state actively encourages “the market.”

Less restrictive state gun laws will likely have a similar impact on federal gun laws. It will make it that much more difficult for the feds to enforce any future federal gun control, and increase the likelihood that states with few limits will simply refuse to cooperate with federal enforcement efforts.

State actions such as passing these bills would lower barriers for those wanting the option of defending themselves with firearms and encourage a “gun-friendly” environment that would make federal efforts to limit firearms that much more difficult.

Mike Maharrey contributed to this report.

TJ Martinell

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