Horry County moves forward with proposed law to limit where guns are discharged

Horry County moves forward with proposed law to limit where guns are discharged

HORRY COUNTY, SC (WMBF) - Horry County leaders are moving forward with a law that would keep residents from firing guns or other weapon in parts of the county with greater populations.

The proposed ordinance is a result of residents in areas like Carolina Forest saying they have heard sporadic gunfire day and night, and seen bullets lodged in their homes.

"It was around August that our neighbors across the street, they noticed a hole in their siding," said Don Mares, a resident of the Berkshire Forest neighborhood.

According to Mares, once the siding was removed, a stray bullet was found lodged in the side of the home.

During Tuesday's Horry County Public Safety Committee Meeting, county leaders brought forth a draft proposal that would prohibit people from firing guns near neighborhoods like Mares.'

"This is more a common sense ordinance of where and how to discharge your firearm," said Horry County Council Chairman Mark Lazarus.

According to Lazarus, the ordinance would affect unincorporated areas of Horry County and major subdivisions of 11 homes or more.

"We want to make sure everybody is educated and understands what the ordinance really does," Lazarus said. "We're not trying to take your rights away to shoot your guns; we're just trying to put an ordinance in place of where and when you can do it."

For over a year, county leaders have been discussing the ordinance, county leaders say many unincorporated areas of the county are growing with more developments and expanding neighborhoods, the reason for the proposed regulation.

During the meeting the committee decided they would allow the county's legal team work on some recommendations, and changes to the ordinance, but they wanted the council members and the public to see the ordinance.

Also attending the meeting, was a mother who lives in an area that could be affected by the ordinance. Whitney Craig told council her son is a member of his school's archery club.

"This law would greatly affect many children in Horry County including my son," Craig told members of the committee. "My son often practices with his bow in our backyard, and many times with my younger daughter as well as with many other neighborhood kids."

Initially, bows were included in the weapons that would be prohibited under the proposed ordinance, but after further discussion at the meeting, members decided they should consider removing bows, as archery bows didn't pose any danger or noise as presented in the written ordinance states.

Lazarus added county council plans to exclude bows from the list of prohibited weapons, and change the definition of the distance to indicate it has to be 300 yards north, south, east and west from the point of discharge.

Still, for residents like Mares, it may not be enough.

"Three hundred yards is a great start," he said. "I applaud council (but) if you look at ballistic reports, bullets have a lot longer range than 300 yards."

Mares said something needs to be done because next time it may not be the siding of a home.

"It could certainly cause some damage if it hit somebody, a person or an animal," he said.

The proposed ordinance is expected to be presented to the Horry County Council at their scheduled Feb. 21 meeting.

The ordinance will have its first reading on Tuesday, February 21, at the County Council Meeting. Lazarus said the first draft is a great start, and they will make necessary changes and recommendations, as needed, he says he wants to get the proposed written ordinance out to the public, to give them a chance to review it.

The second reading could possibly take place on March 7, which would also include public input. Lazarus also said the ordinance could be discussed at the county council budget retreat before it is goes up for a 3rd and final reading.

Copyright 2017 WMBF News. All rights reserved.