Horry County leaders are taking aim at the county’s reckless shooting ordinance.
Calling their last attempt to stop such shooting ineffective, the Horry County Council will vote on a revised policy next month. The proposal was discussed Tuesday during a public safety committee meeting. Officials hope to prevent dangerous recreational shooting near large residential developments.
Councilman Dennis DiSabato, whose district includes part of Carolina Forest, said he wants to prevent stray bullets from flying into yards and houses in densely populated neighborhoods because of careless shooters.
“We’re not trying to legislate for the good neighbors,” he said. “We’re trying to legislate for the jackasses.”
He added that the proposal is meant to help define what reckless shooting is.
“The last thing I want to do is go to one of these guys’ funerals,” he said.
The ordinance the council will vote on prohibits shooting in Longs and most of the county east of the Waccamaw River.
Additionally, it would bar shooting within 500 feet of developments with at least 11 lots or units.
Also outlawed would be discharging a firearm on any county-owned property or right-of-way and within 500 feet of any school, public building or park. The rules would also apply to air guns.
Horry County Councilman Harold Worley said a future proposal could stretch those 500-foot buffers to 1,000 feet. He and committee chairman Danny Hardee agreed that high-powered rifles can shoot projectiles that travel far distances.
Horry County Police Chief Joe Hill said officers can charge those causing some of the problems by enforcing trespassing laws and the ordinance already in effect. Hill added that many of the complaints stem from the noise caused by gunfire. Those convicted of a violation are guilty of a misdemeanor.
In addition to reckless shooters, law enforcement can also charge the owner or caretaker of a property that is determined to be the site of the shooting.
Exemptions would be in place, including for those legally hunting on property of at least five acres in size, members of law enforcement and the armed forces, special events, gun clubs and shooting ranges.
Councilman Al Allen said while he understands the dangers of reckless shooting, the new policy would unfairly punish sensible gun owners.
“I’m afraid this will start us down a slippery slope which will continue to erode the gun rights of our citizens here,” he said. “We have a right as American citizens to keep and bear our arms and to use our arms.”
Allen supports allowing police to enforce the existing regulations.
“We’ll never be able to legislate good common sense, folks,” he said. “Why penalize the good people?”
He contends the new rules wouldn’t stop reckless shooters.
“Instead of doing a shotgun blast, we need to do a rifle shot and target those areas and people causing those issues and bring those people to justice,” he said.
The first vote on the new policy will be at the Horry County Council meeting on Sept. 3. A county ordinance needs three successful readings to be enacted.