18-year-olds can own handguns in South Carolina

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COLUMBIA, S.C. (AP) -- Governor Mark Sanford has signed a bill that lowers the minimum age for South Carolina residents to own a handgun to 18.

Federal law still prohibits firearm retailers and dealers from selling handguns to people younger than 21. But the state law now allows individuals to sell handguns to anyone 18 or over.

South Carolina is one of 18 states -- and the only one in the South -- that had set 21 as the age for handgun ownership.

The new law took effect as soon as the governor signed it.

Proponents had argued that people who are 18 could serve in the military and carry handguns to protect the rights of others to own guns, but when they return home they couldn't own a handgun.

Copyright 2008 by The Associated Press. All Rights Reserved.

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