Board Of Commissioners Create Firearms Safety Committee

After unanimously striking down a proposed gun regulation in February, the Orange County Board of Commissioners created a Firearms Safety Committee to discuss the possibility of future regulations.

Commissioner Barry Jacobs said in their meeting Tuesday night, the creation of the committee does not necessarily mean that any new regulations will be passed.

“We hear enough about those kinds of issues that we just want to have a conversation in a controlled and not necessarily super-charged atmosphere,” he said.

Jacobs said it would give residents the ability to talk through issues such as safety, noise and second amendment rights with people that know the law and the current regulations.

“And see if there are accommodations that can be made that everyone can live with,” he said. “Maybe we can’t, maybe we can, but that’s the purpose.”

The committee will be comprised of eight Orange County residents, who will have voting powers within the committee.

It will also have representatives from the sheriff’s office, the county manager and NC Wildlife Resources. Along with a member of the board, they will be there in an advisory capacity.

“I think we want to ensure that the public doesn’t feel that it’s the commissioners who are running the show here,” commissioner Bernadette Pelissier.

Jacobs said the commissioner, who has yet to be chosen, will be there to give guidance to the committee.

“They could give some response to tell people the commissioners don’t want to go in that direction or the commissioners have heard enough complaints about X that they want to make sure it’s adequately addressed by this group,” he said. “They don’t have to say ‘and therefore you should do this,’ but they could at least give some guidance.”

The board also gave permission for the county to hire a facilitator for the committee, to help mediate heated discussions.

According to an abstract given to the board, the county clerk has contacted Andy Sachs about this position. Sachs is the public dispute coordinator at the Dispute Settlement Center.

The county clerk will advertise to residents when the application window for the committee op

County Commissioners Reject Gun Regulation

After taking hours of public comment, the vast majority in opposition to the proposal, the Board of Commissioners unanimously rejected a proposal that would have made it illegal to shoot a gun for recreational purposes after 6 p.m.

Commissioner Earl McKee said he did not like the proposal because he thought it would effectively eliminate recreational shooting in Orange County.

“I have no sympathy for someone who recklessly or in the middle of the night exercises their right to fire off 100 or 1,000 rounds,” he said. “There needs to be something there to control that type of action, but this thing in front of us tonight does not do that.”

The proposal would have made 10 a.m. to 6 p.m. the only legally allowed time for recreational firearm use.

The ordinance would also prevent people from engaging in “target shooting activities” more than twice a month.

“The ordinance appears to be written for a commercial shooting range,” one resident said. “Not for a resident who wants to do a little recreational target shooting in their backyard.”

The ordinance also would have regulated where on a person’s property they can shoot.

Residents would be required to build a backstop 15 feet in height and 30 feet in depth and place warning signs around their property at 100 foot intervals.

“This may not be your way of life,” another resident said. “But it is for many of us. This is normal for us. We do it safely and reasonably.”

In an email sent to McKee, sheriff Charles Blackwood said the backstop regulations were excessive, asked to extend the permitted time to 7 a.m. to 11 p.m. and said the signage would be a significant financial burden to residents.

Blackwood urged the board and the citizens to find a middle ground.

“All too often we have folks way over  here and then we have folks way over here,” he said. “I don’t know any time in history that anything has gotten solved from either of those places. We’ve got to come together.”

The board will continue to examine the issue and see if there is an ordinance that would make sense to implement.

As part of that process they unanimously approved the creation of the Orange County Firearm Safety Committee, which will be comprised of commissioners, residents and other prominent members of the community.

McKee said those interested in serving on the committee can find more information on the county website, when more details are available.

Guns Allowed at Bars and on Campuses

CHAPEL HILL – A new law allowing concealed weapons on public school campuses and in restaurants took effect Tuesday; and it has some folks in Chapel Hill concerned.

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Next time you visit your favorite restaurant or bar, you may be sitting next to someone with a gun. Adults at your child’s school may have a weapon stashed in their car on the campus parking lot.

And the North Carolina government says that’s okay. But we found out bar owners like Rob Moll disagree.

“It is a bad idea. I just don’t think everyone needs to be walking around carrying guns,” Moll says.

Moll is a co-owner of R & R Grill on Franklin Street.

The new law allows concealed weapons in restaurants and government-owned parking lots.

Moll and other near-by restaurant owners are taking action. “We put the sticker up that says ‘No guns allowed,’” says Moll, “We will not allow them, and that’s it.”

Take a stroll down Franklin Street, and you will notice the sticker on several restaurant windows.

Bar and restaurant owners have an opt-out option. But you may be surprised to hear public school officials don’t have the same. Guns are allowed on public school campuses, and no window sticker or sign can change that.

Public Information Officer for Chapel Hill-Carrboro City Schools, Jeff Nash, says he doesn’t necessarily agree with the law, but it will be obeyed by the school system.

“It was a law that was passed apart from our input,” Nash says,  “We will abide by it, but we don’t think there’s any need to have guns on campus.”

While the law permits concealed weapons on any public school campus, they must be stored in a closed compartment in a locked car.

Concealed weapons carriers who bring their weapons into bars or restaurants are not allowed to consume alcohol.

Advocates of the new North Carolina law say other states have adopted similar laws. They say those states did not see higher crime rates, or more gun use after the laws were passed.

But for now, bar owners like Moll remain skeptical.

“Guns and booze and things just don’t mix,” Moll says.

NC Senate Tentatively OKs Concealed-Carry Bill

RALEIGH – A measure broadening the places people can carry concealed firearms in North Carolina and repealing a requirement to get a license to buy a handgun has tentatively passed the North Carolina Senate.

The Senate gave initial approval to a bill Wednesday that allows concealed-carry permit holders to take or store guns in more places. The bill also adds new safeguards and toughens penalties.

The state attorney general opposes the repeal of the license requirement. Republicans argue it’s a dated law.

Democrats argue the bill as a whole goes well beyond popular opinion and will encourage more gun violence. Republicans say the law targets illegal gun use while promoting responsible gun ownership.

The bill will likely return for a final vote Thursday. The House will have to approve the Senate’s changes.