Concealed Weapons Now Allowed Into SC Bars In Certain Circumstances
A recent change in South Carolina conceal-and-carry law allows holders of valid concealed weapons permits or CWPs to bring concealed guns into bars and restaurants serving alcoholic beverages in some situations. Previously, bringing a pistol or firearm into any establishment that sells liquor for consumption on the business premises was a misdemeanor gun crime whether or not the person had a CWP.
The law passed with large bipartisan majorities in both houses of the state legislature. Gov. Nikki Haley signed the provision on Feb. 11, 2014, and it took effect immediately. CWP holders may now bring their firearms into such establishments, but they may not drink alcohol while on the premises with their guns. In addition, any such bar or restaurant may post a valid sign (“NO CONCEALABLE WEAPONS ALLOWED”) banning guns on the premises.
A tough business decision
The Charleston City Paper reports that the South Carolina hospitality industry is debating the choice between posting the sign prohibiting guns and losing CWP-holder patrons who want to pack guns in these establishments, and allowing guns, but potentially turning off customers who do not feel safe with concealed guns around them.
Violation of the law is a misdemeanor punishable by a maximum fine of $2,000, a maximum prison term of two years or both. CWP holders who violate the law will have their permits revoked for five years. Depending on the circumstances, additional penalties may apply.
The following acts constitute violations of the law:
- Bringing a gun without a valid CWP into a bar or restaurant that serves alcohol
- Bringing a gun into such an establishment with a CWP and consuming alcohol
- Bringing a gun into such an establishment that has posted a valid sign banning weapons on the premises
- Refusing to leave the premises while carrying a gun or to remove the gun from the premises in response to a request to do so from the business operator, property owner or lease holder
Build a criminal defense
Any South Carolinian or visitor to the state accused of violating the new law, or any other state or federal gun crime law, should seek immediate consultation with and representation by an experienced South Carolina criminal defense lawyer.
Your defense attorney can launch an investigation of the incident on your behalf as well as begin to build a solid defense. Skilled legal counsel can negotiate with prosecutors for you and defend you vigorously in court, if necessary, in an attempt to beat the charges or minimize negative consequences.