Columbia City Council passes gun and hate crime ordinances

Columbia City Council passes gun and hate crime ordinances
Columbia City Council passes gun and hate crime ordinances (Source: Emily Wakeman)

COLUMBIA, S.C. (WIS) - New ordinances that target hate speech and tighten gun restrictions are in effect for Columbia residents as of last night.

The Columbia City Council unanimously passed 3 ordinances. Councilman Howard Duvall said it’s a response to things that have happened in the midlands. He said the Council is making a statement that gun violence and hate speech won’t be tolerated.

“We took the initiative and passed these things at the local level,” Duvall. “We are a lot more flexible and can do things faster than the state or federal level. We have had several instances in the last six months in the midlands of murder-suicide, that was an indication that someone was an extreme risk before the incident or the actual murder and the suicide of the person who committed the murder.”

The first ordinance is an Extreme Risk Protection Order. It allows family members or law enforcement to request a court order to remove weapons from a person deemed an extreme risk.

If the court approves the order, the owner must relinquish all firearms until a time that the court vacates the order.

The second ordinance tackles hate intimidation. This charge can only be filed in addition to other charges, such as assault.

The third ordinance is gun-free school zones, which prohibits the possession or discharge of a firearm within a school zone.

“This is sort of a backstop to make sure that we do have protections around schools that we can enforce,” Duvall said.

Duvall said the council modeled this ordinance after the federal law.

“We have federal law, we have state law, and frankly there is nothing wrong with the city of Columbia adopting an ordinance,” Joe McCullough, attorney at McCulloch-Schillaci, said. “It’s a marvelous redundancy.”

He said they give law enforcement the tools to protect people in situations involving guns and hate speech.

Duvall said that Columbia Police Chief Skip Holbrook has been supportive of the ordinances.

“Chief Holbrook has been very supportive of the ordinance,” Duvall said. “He wanted to make sure that his officers were not put into a difficult situation without a judicial order.”

“His officers will go in knowing that the courts have reviewed the case, to remove the weapons,” Duvall said.

Richland County is also considering passing gun ordinances.

Last week, Richland county council filed a motion to determine what ordinances the county could legally pass to increase gun safety.

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