The Horry County Council Tuesday night declined to vote on new rules for firing guns on private property after numerous amendments were proposed, and will instead take the issue directly to the public first.
“This is a serious issue for us,” said Mark Lazarus, council chairman after suggesting that a public workshop be held to hash out all of the differences by the elected officials.
But before the councilmen make any changes, they will hear from the public first at the workshop, the date of which has not been set.
The new rules would essentially make it unlawful for a person to walk out their backdoor and shoot targets in the backyard, for safety as well as noise concerns.
The first reading of the ordinance was put off after numerous amendments were suggested and some already approved, including the removal of bow and arrows from the restrictions.
The council also voted 11-1 to exclude hunters with state licenses from the rules, and voted 10-2 to a definition of shooting range that grandfathers in existing businesses that have operated for at least two years.
The revised ordinance will be posted on the county’s website at www.horrycounty.org.
The current language states that “It shall be unlawful for any person in the unincorporated area of the county to intentionally, negligently, or carelessly discharge any rifle, gun, pistol, revolver, bow or other similar instrument from or by means of which any bullet, shot or other missile of any kind may be projected in a manner as to be likely to cause bodily injury or death to persons or domestic animals or damage to or destruction of property.”
The ordinance also restricts the discharging of firearms within 900 feet of homes in subdivisions, public buildings and schools.
Councilman Al Allen and Johnny Vaught asked that the distance be clearly defined as not radius, but weapons discharged directly at restricted areas.
Councilman Harold Worley, who represents district one, said that he would prefer restrictions on firing guns in certain zones of his district, specifically east of the waterway.
Councilman Tyler Servant is not convinced the regulations are necessary.
“This shooting restriction is an unnecessary action,” Servant said. “Many people live in the unincorporated parts of our county to avoid the freedom limitations of cities and towns. I don’t see it as my job to bring that regulation and oversight into their backyard.”
The new limitations do not apply to the lawful defense of life or property.
Violating the ordinance would be a misdemeanor charge subject to a $500 fine and 30 days in jail.