You loan your firearm to your best friend. What happens if they are forced to use it to defend themselves? Is it legal? Are you responsible for your friend’s actions with your firearm?

What the law says

South Carolina law does not require registration of a firearm when you sell or lend it to another person. Therefore, a person is free to lend their firearms to other individuals, with a few restrictions. State and federal law prohibit certain people from possessing firearms (for example: a convicted felon or someone who has been convicted of a crime of domestic violence). You must not knowingly lend your firearm to these people.

As a general rule

Never lend your firearm to anyone under the age of 18. There are some specific requirements regarding when a minor may possess a firearm. Furthermore, never lend your firearm to someone who is under the influence of alcohol, controlled substances, or to someone you know suffers from mental illness. You would also want to take into account your friend’s familiarity and ability to handle the firearm properly. 

As long as your friend is legally able to possess a firearm, you will not be criminally or civilly liable if he is forced to use your firearm to defend himself. However, it is important to remember that it is possible to be sued for anything, and taking these recommended precautions into account may help you avoid defending a lawsuit, regardless of how frivolous. Following these parameters will help keep you on the right side of the law.

If you have any questions about lending your firearm to a third party in South Carolina, please call U.S. LawShield and ask to speak to your Independent Program Attorney.