Horry County closer to reasonable regulation on firing guns

By The Editorial Board

It has taken an inordinate amount of time, but Horry County Council has advanced regulation of where firearms may be legally discharged in unincorporated, populated areas of the county.

At county government’s recent budget retreat in Pinopolis, council members and appointed officials worked out the basic wording of an ordinance to prohibit shooting in mapped subdivisions with more than 11 homes. The fine points of the language are to be worked out by the county attorney. A public hearing is set for May 3. Councilman Dennis DiSabato has noted the potential difficulty in crafting a regulation that addresses shooting in subdivisions.

Let’s be clear that the proposed regulation is in no way a gun control issue; the ordinance will put reasonable limits on where firearms may be discharged. Municipalities commonly have laws prohibiting firing guns, including air rifles, within the city limits. There may be minor differences in the details of the ordinances.

Horry County Council considered regulation of where guns may be fired after residents in 2016 complained about indiscriminate shooting near their homes in unincorporated Horry County. In these areas, which are not part of a city or town, the county is the governing authority for matters such as public safety and zoning.

Horry County includes several well-populated areas – Carolina Forest and Little River are examples – that are not in cities such as Conway, Myrtle Beach or North Myrtle Beach, though residents of unincorporated areas may have postal addresses of Conway or Myrtle Beach.

The council has moved with more caution than necessary, out of somewhat understandable concern about upsetting gun owners or advocates for the Second Amendment of the Constitution of the United States. Amendment II, part of the Bill of Rights, protects all citizens’ right to bear arms.

In the process of creating some county regulation, language was added to include bows, references to noise, and distance. The matter stalled. As County Council Chairman Mark Lazarus said, “We’ve beat this thing to death. It’s a simple thing. Most problems are within subdivisions where people are shooting guns off their back porch.”

People own guns for many purposes, including hunting, target shooting, collecting, and defense of person and property. The majority of gun owners are responsible and would not even think of shooting in the direction of a neighbor’s house. Unfortunately, some folks are not responsible and society has rules that help protect others from the irresponsible.

The proposed Horry Council regulation boils down to common sense firearms safety to help residents feel secure in their homes. The council continues to move cautiously, hearing from residents before a council vote in the summer.

Public hearing on May 3

Horry County Council has scheduled a public hearing on a proposed ordinance to regulate where guns may be fired in unincorporated areas of the county.

Where | Horry County Government & Justice Center, 1301 2nd Avenue, Conway

When | 5 p.m., May 3

To read the draft language of the proposed ordinance, visit www.horrycounty.org