COLUMBIA, S.C. — The Columbia City Council is taking steps to stop gun violence and hate crimes within the city.
On Tuesday night, council unanimously passed the first reading of three ordinances. One is the Gun-Free School Zones ordinance, that prohibits people from possessing a firearm within 1000 feet of a public, private or parochial school in the city.
This is similar to the federal law that also prohibits firearms near schools.
The second ordinance gives family members and law enforcement the ability to raise a red flag if they see that a person, living in a home with weapons, is in crisis.
The ordinance will allow the courts to order the person to relinquish the weapon to law enforcement or a licensed gun dealer, who is willing to take the weapon.
The third is an ordinance dealing with hate intimidation. The ordinance would allow hate intimidation to be added to a crime if a person set to intimidate a person based on race, color creed, religion, ancestry, gender, gender identity, sexual orientation, disability or national origin.
"It's not something that I think is light," says Donna Dwitt, vice president of the Columbia Central Labor Council. "I think it's something that will create a different environment for people who live in this area."
"I commend the city," says Perry Bradley, CEO of Building Better Communities. "I think the legislature needs to look at them and see what they can do to better themselves because we have to do it on a higher level. It has to become state law."
The need for a hate crime law has come to the forefront in South Carolina, after the murder of nine church goers at Mother Emanuel AME Church in Charleston and recently the racist videos made by a former student of Cardinal Newman High School in Richland County.
"There comes a time now where our federal government refuses to act, our state government also suffers from inertia," says Mayor Steve Benjamin. "So, it is so important for local governments to pass laws and ordinances that govern the way we conduct ourselves and seek to keep people safe."
Council passed the first reading of the three ordinances. So, they will have to return for a second reading before they can be passed within the City.