Maybe you own a gun and were thinking about target practice in the backyard or maybe your neighbor is engaging in target practice that is making you nervous. Either way, it is important to know what the local gun laws are for Horry County, Myrtle Beach, or whatever municipality you live in.
Why is it important? Because, if you violate the local ordinances, it may be a criminal offense that could land you in jail.
Below, I’ll take a look at the local ordinances for both Horry County and the City of Myrtle Beach that control whether it is legal to shoot guns in Horry County, what type of restrictions each municipality has placed on the discharge of firearms, and a new law that is being considered by the Horry County Council.
Is it Legal to Shoot Guns in Horry County, SC?
First, understand that SC’s state gun laws preempt any local ordinances. If a local ordinance conflicts with state law, the state law applies, and the local ordinance is invalid. But, any area of the law that is not preempted by state law can be regulated by local municipalities.
Horry County’s gun ordinance can be found at Section 13-11 of the Horry County Code of Ordinances, which prohibits the “reckless discharge” of firearms within the county and regulates the hours during which it is legal to shoot guns in Horry County.
Reckless Discharge of a Firearm
You can shoot guns in Horry County, but it is a crime that carries up to 30 days in jail to recklessly discharge a firearm in the county:
Any person who shall discharge a firearm or other mechanical device in such a manner as to exhibit a reckless, willful or wanton disregard for the safety of persons, property or domesticated animals, after properly investigated and determined by county law enforcement, shall be charged with a misdemeanor, and upon conviction within the Magistrate/Summary Court of Horry County on a “first offense” shall be subject to a fine of up to five hundred dollars ($500.00) and/or imprisonment of up to thirty (30) days. Upon a second or subsequent conviction within one (1) year of the first, such person shall be subject to a mandatory fine of five hundred dollars ($500.00) and imprisonment of thirty (30) days.
“Reckless” is a broad, vague term that is certainly subject to interpretation depending on the circumstances. Does it mean firing a weapon within a certain proximity to a residence? What if you are firing across an open field that has property on the other side? Is it reckless to fire a gun anywhere without a backstop like a hill?
What if a person walks across your line of fire or drives through on a four-wheeler, and you don’t see them?
Are There Time Limits for Shooting Guns in Horry County?
It is also a crime, punishable by up to 30 days in jail, to shoot guns in Horry County after 10:00 pm or before 6:00 am:
In addition, it shall be unlawful for any person to discharge any firearm between the hours of 10:00 p.m. and 6:00 a.m., or for any person at any time to discharge any firearm on county property under the management of the Horry County Parks and Recreation Department with the exception of county authorized events, a person convicted of which shall be guilty of a misdemeanor punishable by a fine of up to five hundred dollars ($500.00) and/or imprisonment of up to thirty (30) days for each offense.
What is Considered a Gun Under Horry County’s Gun Laws?
A firearm, for purposes of Horry County’s gun law, is a rifle, shotgun, handgun, pistol, or machine gun:
For purposes of this section, a firearm shall be considered a rifle, shotgun, handgun, pistol, or machine gun. A mechanical device shall be considered a cannon, potato gun, air gun, air nail gun or any other mechanical device that will launch a projectile by any means of explosive material to include flammable fluids, compressed air, gases or powders manufactured or custom made.
A firearm cannot be fired after 10:00 pm, but firearms and mechanical devices are covered by Horry County’s reckless discharge law.
Are There Exceptions to Horry County’s Gun Law?
There is a list of exceptions to Horry County’s gun laws, which includes firing a weapon in self-defense of person or property, including against animals:
This section shall not be applied to the following: conduct specifically provided for under S.C. Code § 23-31-510, as amended, a law enforcement officer or member of the armed forces of the United States in the performance of his or her lawful duty, an existing gun club, indoor shooting range, or shooting range (as defined in the S.C. Shooting Range Protection Act) operating in full compliance with all applicable laws and regulations governing such activity, a legally licensed hunter or fisherman engaged in lawful hunting/fishing activities under South Carolina Department of Natural Resources’ rules and regulations, in the lawful defense of persons or property to include in defending against wild, feral or domesticated animals that pose a threat to one’s person or property.
Horry County is Considering a New Law Regulating Where You Can Shoot Guns in Horry County
There is currently no regulation that covers how far a shooter must be from a residence or other building when they shoot guns in Horry County. A proposed ordinance that is currently being considered by Horry County Council would change that.
As it stands right now, the proposed ordinance would require a person to be at least 300 feet from any building before firing a gun, but Horry County Council is also considering amending the ordinance to require a distance of at least 1000 feet in more rural areas like Aynor and Loris.
Is it Legal to Shoot Guns in Myrtle Beach, SC?
Horry County ordinances do not apply within city limits – is it also legal to shoot guns in Myrtle Beach, SC?
Sections 14-101, 102, 103, and 104 of the Myrtle Beach Code of Ordinances prohibit the discharge of firearms (and air rifles or slingshots), the carrying of deadly weapons, and brandishing weapons within city limits.
Discharge of Firearms Prohibited in Myrtle Beach, SC
It is a crime to discharge any kind of firearm within the Myrtle Beach city limits:
It shall be unlawful for any person to discharge or cause to be discharged any firearm of any kind or nature or any air rifle or slingshot at any place within the city. This section does not apply to: law enforcement in training or performance of duty, the business function of a lawful business properly permitted and zoned such as a gun club, military commemorations or funerals (with 24 hour prior notification to the Police Department), shooting range or paintball business, permits under special events or the fire marshal, sanctioned governmental/school/stadium events conducted on public property, or in the case of a landowner discharging a firearm on the landowner’s property to protect the landowner’s family, employees, the general public, or the landowner’s property from animals that the landowner reasonably believes pose a direct threat or danger to the landowner’s property, people on the landowner’s property, or the general public; for purposes of this item, the landowner’s property must be a parcel of land comprised of at least 25 contiguous acres. (See S.C. Code § 23-31-510.)
It is a Crime to Openly Carry a Deadly Weapon in Myrtle Beach, SC
It is also a crime to openly carry a deadly weapon in Myrtle Beach, although this ordinance cannot apply to firearms or any other weapon that is already covered by SC state laws:
(a) Deadly weapon in this section means any device or object designed, made or adapted to be used for the purpose of inflicting bodily injury or death, except firearms, the carrying of which are preempted by state law. (See S.C. Code Title 23, Chapter 31 for firearms laws.)
(b) Public places means all public lands, as well as private property that is readily accessible to the general public, in the course of a commercial or noncommercial permissive or invited public use.
(c) It shall be unlawful for any person to carry openly and visibly, any deadly weapons in public places. Upon conviction thereof, besides that penalty as may be imposed by the court, he shall forfeit the weapon to the city, and the deadly weapon shall be destroyed.
It is a Crime to Conceal a Deadly Weapon in Myrtle Beach, SC
It is also a crime to conceal a deadly weapon in Myrtle Beach, although this also cannot apply to firearms or any other weapon that is already covered by SC state laws:
(a) Concealed about one’s person means hidden from public view on the person or in their clothing, not discernable through ordinary observation, or handily available to the person in something they have within reach or in a conveyance they are in or on.
(b) Deadly weapon in this section means any device or object designed, made or adapted to be used for the purpose of inflicting bodily injury or death, except firearms, the carrying of which are governed exclusively by state law. (See S.C. Code Title 23, Chapter 31 for firearms laws).
(c) Public places means all public lands, as well as private property that is readily accessible to the general public, in the course of a commercial or noncommercial permissive or invited public use.
(d) It shall be unlawful to carry any deadly weapon concealed about one’s person in public places; provided however, it is not carrying a concealed weapon if the weapon is a concealed rifle, shotgun, dirk, slingshot, metal knuckles, a knife or a razor, unless they are used with an intent to commit a crime or in furtherance of a crime. (See S.C. Code § 16-23-460.)
(e) Upon conviction thereof, besides that penalty as may be imposed by the court, the weapon shall be forfeited to the city, and be destroyed.
It is a Crime to Brandish a Weapon in Myrtle Beach, SC
Lastly, it is a crime to brandish a weapon within city limits – to show your weapon to someone to threaten or intimidate them:
(a) Brandish means to wave or flourish menacingly, to display ostentatiously, threateningly, angrily or aggressively.
(b) Deadly weapon in this section means any device or object designed, made or adapted to be used for the purpose of inflicting bodily injury or death, including firearms. (See S.C. Code § 23-31-520.)
(c) It shall be unlawful for any person to brandish any deadly weapon to any person or the public at large within the city limits.
(d) Upon conviction thereof, besides that penalty as may be imposed by the court, the weapon shall be forfeited to the city, and be destroyed.
Remember that state gun laws will always preempt local gun ordinances. Be sure that you are familiar with all gun laws before you purchase or fire a weapon in Horry County – federal, state, and local.
SC Criminal Defense and Firearms Lawyers in Horry County and Myrtle Beach, SC
The Myrtle Beach criminal defense lawyers at Coastal Law defend our clients against all types of criminal accusations, including firearms offenses.