If you live in South Carolina and like to shoot, you may have wondered if you can shoot your firearm in your backyard. I’ll try to give some guidance on this.
First things, first. The context of this article has to do with shooting recreationally. If you’re defending yourself or someone else on your property, you must follow applicable self-defense law.
South Carolina has a preemption law making the state law preeminent. Therefore local jurisdictions cannot enact laws contrary to the state law. This type of law is typically a good thing for gun owners. The reason is that when jurisdictions create their own laws governing something like concealed carry, it becomes complicated to follow the rules.
For example, a simple drive might mean a gun owner crosses 3 different counties and multiple municipalities, each jurisdiction with opposing gun laws. Preemption law allows the state to set the standard for these types of issues.
However, if there isn’t a state law that specifically addresses the issue, local jurisdictions can enact what they see fit. Such is the case with shooting on private property in South Carolina.
What is the State Law?
As you might have guessed, and like many states, the South Carolina state legislature delegates the regulation of shooting on private property to the 46 counties and their municipalities.
I can find the closest thing to a state law on the matter in the South Carolina Code of Laws,
Title 3, Chapter 31, Article 7, Section 23-31-510 (2), which states:
a landowner discharging a firearm on the landowner’s property to protect the landowner’s family, employees, the general public, or the landowner’s property from animals that the landowner reasonably believes pose a direct threat or danger to the landowner’s property, people on the landowner’s property, or the general public. For purposes of this item, the landowner’s property must be a parcel of land comprised of at least twenty-five contiguous acres. Any ordinance regulating the discharge of firearms that does not specifically provide for an exclusion pursuant to this item is unenforceable as it pertains to an incident described in this item; otherwise, the ordinance is enforceable.
And this doesn’t have anything to do with shooting recreationally in your backyard.
There are some state statutes that more broadly apply to firearms.
Discharging a firearm while intoxicated:
SCCL, Title 3, Chapter 31, Article 6, Section 23-31-400:
(B) It is unlawful for a person who is under the influence of alcohol or a controlled substance to use a firearm in this State.
(C) A person who violates the provisions of subsection (B) is guilty of a misdemeanor and, upon conviction, must be fined not less than two thousand dollars or imprisoned not more than two years.
(D) This article does not apply to persons lawfully defending themselves or their property.
County and Municipal Regulations:
I didn’t research the laws of all 46 counties in South Carolina. So it’s best to examine the laws of the county in which you live and consider any zoning regulations that may apply due to your property type. For example, if you live inside city limits, there are likely more significant regulations on what you can or can’t do on your property, including shooting your guns.
However, here are some general guidelines to follow before shooting in your backyard:
- Check county laws – stay up to date with changes
- Check local laws – stay up to date with changes
- Make friends with your neighbors (this is a good thing even if you’re not going to shoot on your property)
- Don’t shoot too early or too late
- Always have trauma gear immediately accessible
Many counties have laws addressing the “reckless” discharging of firearms. Reckless can mean different things to different people. So consider:
- Creating a suitable backstop that will keep all projectiles from leaving the property
- Directing fire away from people
- Not shooting across a road
- Not shooting across the water
- Only use paper/ polymer or steel targets designed for firearms (no lawnmowers filled with Tannerite)
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