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Home  |  News  |  Shooting Ordinance in the works for Lancaster County

Shooting Ordinance in the works for Lancaster County
Friday, September 16, 2011

LANCASTER COUNTY, SC - On September 15, 2011 a news story began circulating regarding a proposed shooting ordinance in Lancaster County. In that news story it was stated that “the new law would make it illegal for anyone to discharge a firearm in Lancaster County unless it’s a deputy using the weapon in the line of duty, a person hunting on land that the land owner has given permission to let that person hunt, or if person was using the gun in self defense.” Although parts of this statement are included in the ordinance, this statement is false and a gross misinterpretation of the proposed ordinance.

This was proposed as a result of incident that occurred on Old Church Rd. in Lancaster County where a horse was killed by what may have been a careless and negligent discharge of a firearm. The Lancaster County Council and Administration requested the Sheriff’s Office’s assistance in drafting an ordinance that would make the shooting of firearms safer for the citizens of the county. The Sheriff’s Office along with County Administration modeled the ordinance after Richland and York counties’ ordinances. The ordinance has been forwarded to the County Administrator for further review and consideration. The ordinance has not been presented to the Lancaster County Council and no new law or ordinance has been created.

The ordinance proposed does not prohibit discharging a firearm within the county. The ordinance prohibits a person from “negligently or carelessly discharging any firearm 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 would also define negligence and carelessness as the following:

1. Discharging a firearm for any purpose other than the below listed exceptions in manner where it is not likely that the projectile will be contained within the real property lines of the property where the firing occurred unless consent has been obtained from the owner of the adjoining property. Example- Not firing into a berm, not having a sufficient shot fall area for shotgun shooting.

2. Discharging a firearm for any purpose other than the below listed exceptions when the fired projectile leaves the area of intended impact and travels onto the property of another without consent.

3. Discharging a firearm under the influence of alcohol or drugs for reasons other than self defense.

4. Discharging a firearm for any purpose other than the below listed exceptions within 300 feet of a business or dwelling of another without permission from the owner.

This ordinance would allow someone who is reasonable and responsible to shoot on their own property (or the property of another with permission) as long as the projectiles are not endangering other persons or property. If the projectiles are contained to your property they would then not be endangering other persons. The ordinance does prohibit shooting within 300 feet of a business or dwelling of another without permission in order to provide a standoff from where the shooting is occurring.

The proposed ordinance also contains a section that states that it would not apply to the following exceptions:

1. A person hunting on his or her own property or on the property of another with the permission of the owner of the property, exhibiting reasonable regard for the safety of persons and property;

2. Law enforcement officers or members of the armed forces discharging firearms in the line of duty; and/or

3. A person discharging a firearm in self-defense.

Exception #1 is listed because state laws that govern hunting already exist. Exceptions #2 and #3 were included so that the ordinance would not encroach on a person’s or law enforcement officers right to self defense.

Sheriff Faile said, “The purpose of the proposed ordinance is to prevent negligent and careless discharge of a firearm, not prohibit shooting in general. We are supportive of citizens safely and legally shooting . We just want everyone to be safe when they do it.”

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