CONWAY, SC (WMBF) – The Horry County Council tabled first reading of an ordinance that prohibits firing guns in the county's more densely populated areas, opting instead to schedule a workshop to address amendments and listen to input from the public.
That decision followed more than an hour of discussion at Tuesday's county council meeting, where the majority of the governing body spoke on the proposed ordinance that has garnered a wave of opinions from residents living in the unincorporated areas.
"We have had a week of it," said Councilman Al Allen, referencing a number of Facebook posts, emails and phone calls the council has received.
The proposed ordinance is a result of residents in the county's more densely populated areas saying they have heard sporadic gunfire day and night, and seen bullets lodged in their homes.
Chairman Mark Lazarus said the possible action is not an effort to take away any Horry County resident's guns or Second Amendment rights. He instead referred to it as a "common sense ordinance."
"Next weekend, I'll be out shooting just like the rest of you will be, but I'll be using common sense," Lazarus said.
Allen said the council had to have this discussion, because of the "idiots out there" who act irresponsibly with their weapons.
He also stressed that, with Horry County's growth, it's an issue the council would have had to address sooner or later.
As the discussion continued, the council approved three amendments to the proposed ordinance, which were: exempting legally licensed hunters acting lawfully under current Department of Natural Resources rules and regulations; saying a shooting range is defined by the South Carolina Shooting Range Protection Act and that ranges which were in operation two years prior to the existence of developments themselves were exempt; and taking out all references to bows and crossbows.
After those three amendments were approved, the talks continued, without a motion to pass first reading of the ordinance.
"We're getting way, way out there right now," Lazarus said at one point.
He then suggested the workshop and asked the council members to go down the line and list any other amendments they would like staff to address.
"These amendments gut the ordinance," said Councilman Harold Worley. "If we're not going to do anything, let's just not do anything and go home and have a ham sandwich."
In response to Lazarus' inquiry, Worley, who represents District 1, did say he would like to see the discharging of firearms prohibited in the majority of his district. He also suggested the council come up with firearm zones.
Councilman Gary Loftus said he hopes something productive will come out of the workshop, and that the ordinance is not written in a way that no one understands it.
An ordinance must pass three readings by county council before it goes into effect.
A date and time for the workshop to talk about the proposed firearm ordinance further was not scheduled by the end of Tuesday's meeting.
The council did say that public input would be held at the beginning of the workshop.