City may increase fines for shots fired

City Council members will be looking to increase fines and jail time for discharging firearms in the city limits.

The city’s current ordinance prohibits any person from discharging a firearm within the city, except in case of self-defense or while in the act of enforcing a law or ordinance of the city. Those not expemt shall be guilty of a misdemeanor.

Violating the city’s ordinances carries a $695 fine. If approved by council members, the amended ordinance would increase city fines from $500 to $750 for a total fine of $945 and include a minimum jail time of three days.

Mayor Errick D. Simmons said he receives numerous calls from residents who live on Washington Avenue regarding people discharging their firearms in the city limits.

As a result, Simmons said he is in favor of imposing stricter fines and jail time for those who break the law.

“It helps when it’s not New Year’s and we get all these shots,” he said during last week’s Charter and Ordinance meeting.

“If this committee wants to do that to send a message to say discharging firearms is a fine.”

All committee members recommended sending the amended ordinance to full council for approval at the Feb. 5 meeting.

The sheer number of people who called the department hearing gunshots this holiday season was unusually high, said Greenville Police Department Maj. Misty Litton.

“I can’t even begin to tell you the number of calls New Year’s Eve that we had,” she said.

In many instances, people discharging firearms step outside when it’s dark and cannot easily be seen by others.

“They’ll either step outside their back door or step out front. Boom, boom, boom and they know everybody’s doing it at one time and some continue to do it. It’s just all over the place,” she said.

“What they don’t realize when they shoot firearms in the air, is that what goes up must come down and that’s dangerous.”