By Paul Gable
The Horry County Public Safety Committee will discuss a proposed ordinance tomorrow night that would seriously restrict gun use in the unincorporated areas of the county.
Prompted by several complaints received by the county within the last 12 months, county attorney Arrigo Carotti drafted an ordinance for county council consideration that would eliminate many areas currently used for hunting. The ordinance would also limit the ability of homeowners to protect their property from animals they consider to pose a direct threat to people or property.
The restrictions of the ordinance are:
1) It shall be unlawful for any person in the unincorporated area of the county to discharge any rifle, gun, pistol, revolver, bow or other similar instrument from any means of which any bullet, shot or other missile of any kind may be projected within one thousand two hundred (1,200) feet of the property boundaries of any school, or other public building or park.
2) It shall be unlawful for any person in the unincorporated area of the county to discharge any rifle, gun, pistol, revolver, bow or other similar instrument from any means of which any bullet, shot or other missile of any kind may be projected within nine hundred (900) feet of any building used as a dwelling or business unless the dwelling or business is owned by the individual(s) sanctioning such activity.
There is a provision in state law (23-31-510) that allows homeowners to shoot animals they consider a direct threat that would be included in this ordinance. However, that provision requires the property to be not less than 25 contiguous acres.
Law enforcement officers and military members performing lawful duties and licensed gun clubs, ranges and galleries, operating in an area zoned for their use, are also exempt from the provisions of the ordinance.
As it is currently written, not only does this proposed ordinance restrict the discharge of weapons within 1,200 ft. of public buildings and within 900 ft. of dwellings or businesses it also restricts the landing of bullets, etc. within those limits.
If you shoot at a deer and miss, how far does your bullet carry before it runs out of energy and drops to the earth? What of ricochets that may take a bullet off line and have it land within 900 ft. of a home even though you weren’t aiming in that direction?
A .22 cal. long rifle cartridge will carry over a mile (5,280 ft.) before its energy is expended.
In many rural areas where people hunt in fields, how do they know exactly how far they may be from occupied dwellings or businesses? Dwellings 899 ft. or less away can be out of sight in wooded areas but still within range.
It is hard to see, if this ordinance passes, how many areas currently used by hunters for deer and other game will remain legal to hunt in.
Is this an attempt by county government to further restrict your Second Amendment rights?
It certainly demonstrates that the current county government answer to any issue is to pass more restrictive laws. Just as we have seen in bike rally ordinance discussions recently, the current county council leadership is inclined to add laws and restrictions rather than merely enforcing the laws currently on the books.
The Public Safety Committee will meet Thursday March 22, 2012 at the Horry County Government and Justice Center, 3rd Ave., Conway in County Council Chambers beginning at 5 p.m.