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Coronavirus and Your Right to Carry in South Carolina

COVID-19 (“Coronavirus Disease”) has spread around the world at a frightening speed and, more likely than not, has impacted your local community. The federal government has responded to this health crisis by restricting travel to specific countries and, most recently, imposed a 30-day travel restriction to the United States by foreign nationals in certain European countries.

At this time, Monday, March 16, 2020, the New York Times has reported 28 cases or suspected cases of Coronavirus in South Carolina. While these are the official numbers, most experts believe there are potentially more cases out there.

State of Emergency

South Carolina has now declared a state of emergency, as many states have done. Public schools and colleges have shutdown classes, sporting events and concerts are canceled, and officials are warning to avoid close contact with large groups.

Right to Carry During a State of Emergency

So, how would South Carolina declaring a state of emergency affect your right to carry your weapon? South Carolina law does not address this issue, and its silence on the subject means that the right to carry is unaffected during a state of emergency.

Additionally, South Carolina does not allow any county, municipality, or other political subdivision to regulate the transfer, ownership, possession, carrying, or transportation of firearms except during times of a demonstrated potential for insurrection, invasions, riots, or natural disasters.

Would the current crisis qualify to allow these local regulations during a state of emergency? As the current crisis is unprecedented, that may be a question for the courts to decide.

Prohibited Places

Perhaps the bigger concern with the current state of emergency is to remember that Concealed Weapons Permit holders are prohibited from carrying into a hospital, medical clinic, doctor’s office, or any other facility where medical services or procedures are performed, unless specifically authorized by the employer. It’s important to note that the law specifically says “employer,” meaning the general public is not allowed to carry even with authorization of the medical facility.

Quarantines

South Carolina Laws have been enacted to prevent the transmission of infectious diseases and to ensure that such any such disease, or diseases, are subject to proper treatment and control.  South Carolina Department of Health and Environmental Services was granted the power under the South Carolina Code of Laws Ann. § 44-4-510-540 to isolate and quarantine individuals and groups of individuals during a public health emergency.

There has yet to be a declared public health emergency at the present time, however, that is subject to change in the days and weeks ahead. Law enforcement or the public safety authority may arrest, isolate, or quarantine anyone in violation of an isolation or quarantine order. Failure to comply with such an order constitutes a felony punishable by a fine of up to one thousand dollars ($1,000.00) or not more than 30 days, or both, upon conviction. Obviously, it is against both federal and state law for an individual convicted of such a felony to possess either guns or ammunition. Any such arrest could additionally result in the firearms being confiscated pursuant to an arrest.

Stay Informed and Stay Safe

It will be important in the days and weeks ahead to stay tuned to your local news to keep abreast of what is happening in your local community, as well as in the State of South Carolina and the nation. You may click here for the South Carolina Emergency Management Division for the latest updates and news.

Everyone here at U.S. LawShield wishes our membership to remain safe during the current pandemic. We will attempt to keep you informed as developments arise here in South Carolina and our nation. If you have further questions, feel free to call U.S. LawShield and ask to speak to your Independent Program Attorney.

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