People sign petition opposing possible Horry County gun range near Highway 90

People sign petition opposing possible Horry County gun range near Highway 90

HORRY COUNTY, SC (WMBF) - People living in new neighborhoods along S.C. 90 are worried their quiet atmosphere could soon be pierced by the sounds of gunshots all day long if a firing range is installed.

"A gun range is not a bad thing. I'm not against a gun range, but it needs to be put in a location where it doesn't violate anyone's rights," said James Galantino, who lives in Hillsborough. "Not the rights of people who are Second Amendment who want to shoot and it doesn't violate the rights of people who want to live in a peaceful and tranquil society."

Galantino started a petition that is now circulating through several neighborhoods near a potential Horry County gun range site.

"They're going to put it right in the middle of 2,000 homes, which doesn't make sense," he said.

Galantino added he thinks the majority of people living in the area will sign against the shooting range.

"One of our members that showed up this morning is a World War II veteran, 91 years old," he said. "Wants no parts of this here."

Galantino is concerned about the sounds of gunfire disturbing everyone, but especially those who suffer from post traumatic stress disorder.

"When you're at home and all of a sudden you start hearing gunfire, that is what's a trigger," he said.

He is also nervous about people's safety.

"Even with the best of care with gun ranges, a stray bullet can happen," Galantino said. "God forbid if that happens and it kills a child or a parent."

Horry County leaders renewed discussions about opening the gun range after hearing from people concerned with their own neighbors firing weapons on their private property.

"A neighbor could call up the police and say, 'You've got to stop this guy from shooting,'" said Horry County Councilman Johnny Vaught. "If he's not shooting at you or at your house, it's legal and there's nothing that can be done about it."

As council members consider the possibility of restricting shooting in neighborhoods, Vaught said they want to give people somewhere else to be able to go.

"People who used to have fields that they can go out and shoot in against the woods and backdrops where there were no people around and it was safe to shoot, those places are disappearing because of development," Vaught said.

He said the county previously had a panel evaluate five sites for a shooting range, which ranked nearly 1,200 acres of Solid Waste Authority property as the best potential site for a variety of reasons, such as cost, size and location.

However, Vaught said council members disagreed on getting into the gun range business and no private companies wanted to partner up, so the idea was dropped.

Now, Vaught said several companies are interested in a private public partnership. The county would provide the land and infrastructure and the company would lease it and run the gun range.

Vaught added the gunfire would be directed away from the neighborhoods for safety reasons and that would also cut down on noise pollution.

"I think given the amount of woodlands between where the proposed firing range would go and that neighborhood would go will really cut back on the noise," he said.

Vaught wants to do a firing test to see if people in the neighborhoods can hear the shots.

"I just want them to be fair with us," he said. "Take a look at it. See what it's going to be and be assured we're not going to force something down their throats. Not going to happen."

Vaught also plans to have public meetings in each of the neighborhoods.

He said a site plan will be presented at the Infrastructure and Regulation Committee meeting Aug. 23, but no vote is scheduled for that meeting.

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