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Orange County Adopts Firearm Safety Ordinance

Orange County Adopts Firearm Safety Ordinance

The Orange County Board of Commissioners adopted an ordinance drafted by The Orange County Firearm Safety Committee at the board’s meeting last week.

The committee comprises eight members, with advisers from the board, sheriff’s office, county manager and N.C. Wildlife resources.

The committee’s purpose was to draft a new ordinance, after the board unanimously voted against one in February because of possible burdens on recreational shooting.

Earl McKee is a commissioner and advising committee member. He said the committee came to agreements on most issues that were necessary to draft the new ordinance.

“They had quite a bit of conversation over definitions of words,” he said. “And what direction the committee should go in. And what was reasonable regulations and what was not reasonable regulations.”

The proposed ordinance will make it unlawful to discharge a firearm “in any manner that causes the projectile to leave the property on which it is discharged.” The draft does contain an exception if the person discharging the firearm has written consent from the adjacent property owner.

It will also address operating a firearm under the influence of alcohol.

Commissioner Mark Marcoplos said he supports the draft.

“If you’re out in the country and you’ve got three neighbors, and they don’t mind you shooting, then you go and get them to give you written permission,” he said. “If you live in a neighborhood, and there’s a lot of people there, then I think it’s incumbent upon you to check in with your neighbors and get written permission from them as well. And if you can’t, then that means I think you live in a denser neighborhood. I think that could work.”

Orange County resident Cathy Cole said she also supports the new ordinance. She said, however, a section about noise should be added because  she often hears loud gunshots at night.

“I say automatic or semi-automatic because I, myself, am not familiar with the weapons. But it was bam-bam-bam-bam-bam-bam-bam; it just continued.”

However, Orange County resident Riley Ruske said creating these restrictions on recreational gun use is a violation of constitutional rights.

“For over a year, the commissioners and their cohorts have been attempting to infringe on the rights of law-abiding citizens,” he said.

McKee said the restrictions on firearm use by the proposed ordinance are fair and carefully thought out.

“No one wants anyone shooting intoxicated,” he said. “This gives the deputy something to do there. No one wants bullets going off on their property. This takes care of that. This ensures that either a natural or a man-made backstop will stop a projectile on your property unless you have written permission from your neighbor to shoot across their land.”

Board members say they plan to bring up the ordinance in future meetings, and plan to discuss options of adding sections that address noise, time and distance. The full draft ordinance can be found here.

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