HORRY COUNTY, SC (WMBF) – The gun debate is back on the docket for the Horry County Council.
This time, lawmakers say they’re working to make a “simplified” ordinance to address gun concerns throughout the county.
“Why should somebody who is doing everything right have to prove he’s doing everything right? So we went simple with it. We said ‘OK, if you’re out there shooting in such a way as to endanger people, property, or animals – as otherwise being unsafe – then the officer can come out and arrest you,’ after due investigation obviously,” said Horry County Councilman Johnny Vaught.
The new ordinance being drafted will simply spell out safe and unsafe gun use. If deemed unsafe by a police officer, the gun operator could be arrested.
According to Vaught, the new ordinance being drafted doesn’t include anything about noise. He said the noise issues are separate, and already tough to enforce. The new ordinance also excludes the distance of a shooter to another object.
“It’s a loophole,” Vaught said, adding police officers and citizens don’t carry tape measures with them.
When asked how a police officer can arrest a citizen simply by deeming the person responsible for ‘unsafe’ shooting practices, Vaught said law enforcement will have extra training to differentiate the right circumstances qualifying a shooter as ‘unsafe.’ It will be included in current police gun training.
Vaught said police officers will not drive around listening for gun shots.
The county has debated gun issues for years. It’s also been discussed among the citizens as well. However, Vaught said no one showed up to Monday’s meeting to object to the possibility of this new ordinance.
He said it’s challenging to make an appropriate gun ordinance with a sky-rocketing residential population. Many places used for shooting in the past are now near neighborhoods or part of one.
“With the development that’s going on now, every square foot of property that’s available, they’re trying to develop it now and that’s encroaching on all the free land that used to be out there, and it’s almost like the wildlife problem,” Vaught said. “Because, you know, you encroach on the wildlife when you’re developing property that was primarily woods before.”
If the ordinance passes three readings, it will go into law. A person arrested for the ordinance and convicted by a judge will face a $500 fine or 30 days in jail, based on the ordinance.
If convicted twice within a year, the person will face both the fine and jail time.
This ordinance is up at the county’s first council meeting in October. It is up for public comment on Oct. 17.
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