New county gun rules govern more than just guns. Here’s what you need to know

Six year old Holden Coker fires a BB gun. Juniper Bay Baptist Church in Conway hosts its eighth annual Wildlife Expo Saturday, March 4, 2017.
Six year old Holden Coker fires a BB gun. Juniper Bay Baptist Church in Conway hosts its eighth annual Wildlife Expo Saturday, March 4, 2017. Matt Silfer for The Sun News.

If you’re a gun owner who doesn’t want to end up in jail, you should get familiar with the new rules in Horry County.

Horry County Council on Tuesday voted 10-2 to approve the new gun ordinance governing the use of firearms in the county.

The new ordinance prevents you from discharging “a firearm or other mechanical device in such a manner as to exhibit a reckless, willful or wanton disregard for the safety or persons, property or domesticated animals, after properly investigated and determined by County Law Enforcement.”

That part of the ordinance is applied to firearms, air guns, potato guns, nail guns, and any other mechanical device that launches projectiles by explosive material, flammable liquid, compressed air, gases or powders, meaning gun owners aren’t the only ones affected.

The rules also ban you from shooting a gun in the county between 10 p.m. and 6 a.m. and prevent you from shooting a gun in areas controlled by Horry County Parks and Recreation, such as boat landings or T-ball fields.

So how do you know if you’re being reckless? The ordinance tasks county police with deciding.

Horry County Police Chief Joe Hill said in a previous interview with The Sun News that police would enforce the law on a case-by-case basis.

“Just to be very simple, make it easy for the officer, was a home or structure hit, was somebody in danger of being struck?,” said Hill. “Those are kind of the two baselines.”

And if you get busted?

A first offender will be charged with a misdemeanor with a fine of up to $500 and up to 30 days in jail, according to the ordinance. A second offense within a year would mean a mandatory $500 fine and 30 days in jail.

According to the county’s written decision, there have been “numerous discharging of firearms and/or other mechanical devices in a careless or reckless manner that has caused some property damage and has put some persons are risk of being injured.”

Councilman Harold Worely said the county had no choice.

“Somebody’s going to get killed,” he said.

Not everybody was happy with the decision.

“I think following existing laws and using good judgment is enough,” said councilman Tyler Servant, who voted against the ordinance. “If people are firing guns recklessly and they’re endangering people’s lives, that should be dealt with. But having said that, putting more laws on the books is not the answer.”

Councilman Dennis DiSabato also voted against the ordinance because he said it wasn’t strong enough and that there would be too much subjectivity in interpreting it.

“As I assumed this ordinance will be passed, I implore council to revisit this and give it some more teeth in the future,” he said.

Christian Boschult: 843-626-0218, @TSN_Christian