Permits Required for “Casual” Sales of Handguns

H.3669 would increase regulations on firearms by requiring a license to engage in the “casual” sale of a handgun.

“Casual” in this context means the sale of a handgun by a person not engaged in the business of selling handguns. An applicant must go through SLED to obtain the license and must be prepared to post a bond in favor of the state with surety in the amount of $5,000. Once a license is paid for and obtained, a biennial fee of $200 is imposed.

The proposal raises a number of troublesome questions. In the first place, does the term “casual” mean to encompass any non-business-related exchange involving a handgun? The proposal does not clearly state whether an exchange between two family members would require the $5,000 license. It does state, however, that violators of the bill would be guilty of a felony and subject to a $2,000 fine or 5 years of imprisonment. Secondly, the bill states that SLED “may grant a license” to any person engaged in casual handgun sales. If licensure is at the discretion of SLED, is it possible that some members of the community may not be granted a license?

Simply put, this bill proposes more regulations on the already grossly overregulated sphere of firearm sales. Requiring licensure is a classic method for reducing the supply of participants engaging in an activity. In this case, regulations would clearly reduce the number of persons engaging in “casual” handgun sales. Proponents may argue that an increase in overall public safety justifies the regulation. While we cannot know for sure if this measure would increase overall public safety, we have yet another reason to believe that state government is actively infringing upon South Carolinians’ individual liberties.

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