Horry County wants to tighten laws on firing guns in neighborhoods

Horry County Council could change some of its gun safety laws in the future.

Nick Rollins, a resident of Little River, spoke to County Council on Tuesday about damage to his subdivision home due to an immediate neighbor shooting high-powered rifles into a mound of dirt. Not all bullets are staying in the ground, and it’s making his property unsafe, he said.

“If I was firing an automatic weapon or a high-powered rifle in the direction of your home and only a small pile of dirt and a handful of trees were there to stop the bullets, would you consider that an acceptable and safe manner to discharge a weapon?” Rollins asked the Council.

Rollins said this isn’t a gun rights issue. It’s about keeping his property and family safe from bullets. He said police officers who visited his home said it was a safety problem — there just wasn’t much that could be done.

He asked council to revisit an ordinance passed in 2017 regarding the reckless discharge of a gun. The ordinance bans the use of “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.”

Rollins said the ordinance as written doesn’t give police a way to enforce the ordinance when he files a complaint. He would like to see the law changed and he wasn’t alone.

Council Members Paul Prince, Dennis DiSabato and Harold Worley agreed the ordinance did not go far enough.

“It’s not a gun rights issue, it’s a gun safety issue,” Worley said.

Prince agreed it was a matter of safety.

Worley said when the issue originally was debated, the gun rights advocates showed out in opposition to the ordinance. Others opposed it because it wasn’t enforceable.

DiSabato said he voted against the ordinance in 2017 because it didn’t have enough enforcement mechanism to make it work. He said he would gladly support bringing it back.

At the time, council was led to believe there was enough already on the books to enforce gun safety laws, Worley said, but Rollins showed that wasn’t the case.

For Worley, who represents Little River, Horry County is changing. Iif you’re in a rural area, it isn’t an issue, he said, but it is a safety issue in developed areas of Horry County. It does not make sense to have people firing rifles in highly developed areas, Worley said.

Council instructed staff to bring the ordinance pertaining to gun safety in developed areas back to county council. This means the changes will need to go back through committee and get through three readings before it could be passed into law.

But Worley asked Rollins to bare with council. Worley said he thinks this is a “quality of life” issue and can be passed with the current council, giving more meaningful protections this time.

“This is not being a good neighbor, this is bad,” he said. “It’s not just in Little River.”