Society Hill council bans (most) gunfire
By Bobby Bryant
Face-masked and socially distanced, Society Hill Town Council met last week for the first time in three months to wrap up a debate on banning gunfire inside town limits.
After being sidelined by COVID-19 concerns since March, council returned June 16 and took a final “yes” vote on a plan that will forbid shooting a firearm inside Society Hill town limits except for people “lawfully hunting,” or engaged in a “lawful shooting sport,” such as target practice, at least 300 yards from the nearest residence.
The issue first came up early this year, when officials realized the town of 560 people did not have a law on its books specifically making it illegal to discharge a firearm within town limits.
“It’s not that we’re going to be out there, looking for someone shooting a gun on the edge of town,” Society Hill Police Chief David Young told council in March. “It’s just if we needed to enforce it.”
An initial vote on the plan won easy approval in February, but when council returned in March for the final vote, hunters who own land inside town protested that the plan would make it illegal to hunt on their own property. Council postponed the final vote, then the COVID-19 crisis struck, preventing council from meeting again in regular session until last week.
Council members tightened up the language of the ordinance last week after councilman Chuck Baker noted that the original phrasing – “or another shooting sport” – was too vague. “We’re opening the door (too) wide,” he said, adding that practically anything, even shooting at passing trucks, could be labeled a “shooting sport.”
Members changed it to “lawful shooting sport.”
In other business last week, council gave initial approval to the town’s $242,000 budget for the next fiscal year. Mayor Tommy Bradshaw said the budget is 2.2 percent smaller than the current budget. No town employees get a pay raise and no tax increase is included in the new spending plan.