Columbia City Council to vote on gun and hate crime ordinances

Columbia City Council to vote on gun and hate crime ordinances

COLUMBIA, S.C. (WIS) - Tuesday, Columbia City Council is taking a first vote on three ordinances designed to make Columbia safer.

We sat down with At-Large City Councilman Howard Duvall as he explained each of these ordinances that have the chance to become municipal law.

One of them is an ordinance that would bring a hate crime law to the local level.

Monday, Richland County Sheriff Leon Lott gave an update on the Cardinal Newman investigation, again saying the state needs a hate crime law.

South Carolina, he says, is one of four states that does not have that type of law, but City of Columbia officials want to take that decision down to a local level.

"Where if you have, say an assault and battery, and it was deemed to be a hate crime, based on the ordinance criteria, then an additional penalty could be put on top of the crime," Duvall said.

That ordinance, if passed, Duvall says it would address incidents of hate including race, sexual orientation, gender, and religion.

Duvall says it could also move the county to take more action.

“I would hope that Richland County would follow our lead and adopt a similar ordinance. We are doing things with Richland County much more cooperatively now and this is another area of cooperation where we could make the two ordinances the same,” Duvall said.

A second ordinance comes on the heels of recent murder-suicides in Columbia and would allow Columbia Police to take temporary action on certain gun owners.

“To remove the firearms from a person that has been deemed by the court to be an extreme risk to either themselves, or to families, or friends," Duvall said.

Duvall says if the municipal law were enacted, a judge would decide how long police can hold the gun and when to give it back in accordance with similar laws on the books.

Lastly, a city ordinance to address ‘gun-free school zones’, which Duvall says is currently a part of state law.

“Give us a perimeter of a thousand feet around a school, enforced by municipal ordinance, honoring the exceptions to that ordinance by state law,” Duvall said, “we’re also adopting the South Carolina criteria. Our ordinance is not as expansive as South Carolina, but we will cover K-12 on public schools, private schools, and parochial schools,” Duvall said.

He adds the ordinance is essentially a 'fail-safe,' that would assure the city still has their own gun-free school zone law, modeled after federal law, in case legislators made changes at the state level. He says federal law would preempt state law.

If these ordinances pass Tuesday night, they are not municipal law yet. Ordinances need to pass two public votes before becoming a municipal law, this would only be the first vote.

A second vote might come at the next council meeting, or according to Duvall, could take longer depending on if they need to look at the ordinances a little closer.

Duvall says the public can weigh in on this and other ordinances Tuesday, but they would have to sign in to speak and list what specific ordinances they would like to speak on.

You can do that, right outside of the council chambers at city hall, to speak during the ‘public comment’ part of the council meeting, which is toward the beginning of the meeting

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