Charleston County Council Chairman Elliott Summey, a guns rights advocate who said he owns “a pile of guns,” now has said he mistakenly voted in favor of a resolution last week calling for state and federal authorities to outlaw the very type of firearms he owns.
Summey said there was some confusion at last Thursday’s vote because the resolution, as originally presented in writing, called for laws “banning all assault-style weapons” in South Carolina. Summey said he took that to mean fully automatic machine guns that fire hundreds of rounds, as were depicted in a video shown to council.
The council action had no force of law — a resolution is a statement of opinion — but it’s passage was noted by the National Rifle Association and websites such as Firearmslife. Summey, who switched political affiliations in 2012 and joined the Republican Party, issued a statement Monday disavowing his days-earlier support of the resolution.
“I’m not voting to take away guns that I already own,” Summey said Tuesday. “That’s insane.”
The resolution Summey voted for, as amended by Councilman Vic Rawl, called for a state ban on “semi-automatic high-capacity magazine weapons,” a definition that Summey said would include handguns.
Rawl said the issue is how “high capacity magazine” is defined. “I would consider a high-capacity magazine anything that you can use in a rifle or pistol that increases it more than 10 rounds,” he said.
“When you use any weaponry that has the capacity to fire a lot of rounds in a hurry you are in fact utilizing a weapon that is semiautomatic that has a high capacity magazine,” he said.
Last Thursday, the measure passed with seven favorable votes and two abstentions.
Rawl said that he would not vote to reconsider the resolution, which he noted is only a position requesting the state to act on the issue.
Councilman Henry Darby, sponsor of the resolution, made a detailed presentation to the council last Thursday about the role of assault weapons in mass shootings. He showed graphic photos of injuries that assault weapons inflict. Darby could not be reached for comment Tuesday afternoon.
Summey said he thought he was voting to ask the state and federal government to enforce laws already on the books.
“I get the emotion behind it, especially with what’s happened here in the last 18 months,” he said. “But at the same time I’m not going to vote to not be able to protect myself and my family and my property.”
Summey said he realized in retrospect that the approved resolution covers his Glock handguns and many other weapons. Summey said that he owns handguns, rifles and shotguns. He also has a state-issued permit to carry a concealed weapon, and is a hunter.
“I don’t know how many (guns) I own,” he said. “I own a pile of them. I’ve got a safe full of guns.”
High-capacity magazines, some of which can hold up to 100 rounds of ammunition, significantly increase a shooter’s ability to injure and kill large numbers of people quickly because they enable the individual to fire repeatedly without needing to reload. The time required to reload can be critical in enabling victims to escape and law enforcement or others to intervene, according to the Law Center to Prevent Gun Violence.
Although the statutory definitions vary, magazines with a capacity of more than 10 rounds of ammunition are generally considered “large capacity” magazines. Large-capacity ammunition magazines are the common thread uniting all of the high-profile mass shootings in America, the Center says.
Six states and the District of Columbia currently ban or restrict large-capacity magazines. Maryland defines a large-capacity magazine as a magazine capable of accepting more than 20 rounds. New Jersey defines it as one capable of accepting more than 15 rounds, and California, Hawaii, Massachusetts and D.C. define it as a magazine capable of accepting more than 10 rounds. In New York, the law is a magazine capable of firing more than seven rounds, according to the Connecticut Office of Legislative Research.