During the past decades, the complexity of conventional methods to perform seismic performance assessment of buildings led to the development of more effective approaches. The rigid body spring-discrete element method (RBS-DEM) is one of these approaches and has recently been applied to the study of the behavior of reinforced concrete (RC) buildings subjected to strong earthquakes. In this paper, the governing equations of RBS-DEM planar elements subjected to lateral loads and horizontal ground motion are presented and used to replicate the hysteretic behavior of experimental RC columns. The RBS-DEM models of columns are made up of rigid components connected by systems of springs that simulate axial, shear, and bending behavior of an RC section. The parameters of springs were obtained using Response-2000 software and the hysteretic response of the models of select columns from the Pacific Earthquake Engineering Research (PEER) Structural Performance Database were computed numerically. Numerical examples show that one-component models were able to simulate the initial stiffness reasonably, while the displacement capacity of actual columns undergoing large displacements were underestimated.