Mayor Tim Grimsley, Cottageville Council field questions before a packed crowd
about the town’s gun regulations.
By JULIE HOFF
Cottageville’s mayor and Town Council want to be clear: “We don’t want to take your guns or keep you from shooting squirrels in your backyard,” Mayor Tim Grimsley said.
At a packed public hearing Tuesday — preceded by hundreds of comments on social media — more than 90 residents turned out to voice opinions on two pending ordinances:
A new ban on weapons on town property, including Town Hall, the municipal park, the library and the police station; and
An amended ordinance dating from 2004 that prohibits firearms from being discharged within city limits.
Grimsley said the first ordinance was proposed after a few people openly carried weapons at a children’s Christmas event in the town park.
“It scared the children and concerned some parents,” he said.
“We’re not trying to infringe on anybody’s second amendment rights or those with CWPs [concealed carry permits]. We just don’t want open carry in the park,” the mayor said.
“I’m not trying to take your guns — I have about 100 myself.”
There was little comment on the first proposed ordinance. Many South Carolina towns and cities have similar laws on the books.
The second proposed ordinance drew negative comments and criticism for being vague and misleading.
It’s an amended version of the 2004 ordinance, copies of which were posted on a wall for the audience to read. The original version says: “It shall be unlawful, within the corporate limits, to fire aim or discharge any pellet rifle, slingshot or other device, in any manner which may be intentionally used to harm any person or property.”
The only updates are: The word “device” replaces “firearm” and a $500 fine was added.
“It’s the same ordinance that’s been on the books,” Grimsley explained. We just changed a word.”
Officials changed the language after a resident called 911 because her neighbor was shooting from inside his house into the woods.
“I have nothing against guns,” Lisa Carter said. “We have some, too. But to hear three loud pops so close, it scared me.”
Department of Natural Resources Sgt. Andrew Godowns said the ordinance prohibits residents from shooting within 300 yards of a residence.
“That means someone else’s residence. If it’s your own, you can,” Police Chief Jeffery Cook said.
Resident Angelia Perry held up a copy of the proposed amended ordinance and said, “This doesn’t match what you’re saying. It’s unclear. You’re telling us it’s okay, but that’s not what this says.”
Resident Frank Santorello said, “We are a nation of laws, not emotions, and I think your issues are met by the existing ordinance.”
“Can we shoot a gun in the town of Cottageville or not?” former Mayor Charles Griffith asked.
“You can shoot a gun on your property,” Grimsley said. “Shoot a squirrel, I don’t care. Just don’t shoot a squirrel on your neighbor’s porch.”
Council took no action after public comments.
After the meeting, Grimsley said he’s inclined to forget the amended ordinance “and just keep using the old one from 2004, the one we have.”