SC Attorney General says city temporary weapons ban unconstitutional

SC Attorney General says city temporary weapons ban unconstitutional

COLUMBIA, SC (WIS) - South Carolina's attorney general says a temporary gun ban put in place by the City of Columbia for the area surrounding the State House is unconstitutional.

The ordinance bans weapons within a 250-foot zone around the State House for 30 days. City officials say it was enacted because of a credible threat of gun violence within that time.

But Monday, Attorney General Alan Wilson's office declared the ordinance unconstitutional, saying that it violates South Carolina law and the Second Amendment. Wilson's office says the law makes illegal a practice which is lawful in the state, and that local governments are prohibited by state statute from regulating the carrying or possession of firearms.

Solicitor General Robert Cook issued his opinion on the ordinance Monday.

"While we appreciate the purpose behind the Ordinance -- to protect public safety -- we believe a court would likely conclude this particular Ordinance is preempted in toto by State law and that such Ordinance is unconstitutional," said the opinion. "In short, a person may not carry a firearm or dangerous weapon in the 250' zone, even though State law may, and in fact does, permit such carrying in a variety of circumstances."

"This Opinion thus concluded that 'the city lacks authority to pass local legislation concerning this subject matter. (emphasis added)," said the opinion.

A Columbia man filed a lawsuit challenging the ban, claiming it denies him the right to protect himself.

"...It is our opinion that a court would conclude that the Ordinance, which bans the carrying and brandishment of firearms and dangerous weapons on public property in a 250' foot (sic) zone extending from the boundaries of the Capitol grounds, is preempted by State law, and thus unconstitutional."

Columbia City Council is expected to vote on repealing the weapons ban at its meeting Tuesday.

Copyright 2015 WIS. All rights reserved.