Skip to comments.Commissioners approve shooting ordinance(NC)
Posted on 03/10/2011 4:04:14 AM PST by marktwain
SMITHFIELD - Whoa buddy, careful where you point that pistol. Johnston County lawmakers have slipped new rules into the sheriff's holster to help him protect residents from stray gunfire.
Johnston County Commissioners on Monday unanimously passed an ordinance that's meant to reduce the growing problem of reckless gun use in rural regions of the county.
Starting immediately, residents can no longer fire guns:
-"Carelessly and heedlessly, so as to endanger any person or property," or so that the projectile crosses the property of another person without that person's permission.
-While intoxicated by a controlled substance, as determined by an investigating officer.
-Two hours after sunset to one hour before sunrise.
The law defines firearms as handguns, shotguns, rifles or any devices that "expels a projectile by action of an explosion." Bows and arrows and BB, pellet and paintball guns are excluded. Exceptions are given for law enforcement, hunters and residents who are defending their lives or property or who are protected by other state laws. Violators would receive a $100 fine and up to 30 days in jail for a first offense, and a fine of up to $300 for a second offense.
Monday's vote ended a six-month process in which resident gun enthusiasts worked together with county staff to rewrite an ordinance that was originally drafted to ban the firing of weapons within 600 feet of occupied buildings. The ordinance is the first in Johnston County which specifically regulates gunfire.
County Commissioners were first approached to take action in October when residents near Selma complained that bullets from their neighbor were hitting their houses when their neighbor was target-shooting on his property.
Sheriff's deputies were dispatched several times to investigate gun use at Eddie Jordan's property. Jordan is pastor of Faith Baptist Church and owner of the Second Amen-ment gun shop in Smithfield.
Johnston County staff then studied the frequency of stray bullet complaints and learned that the issue had become a nuisance countywide. The Johnston County Sheriff's Office received 527 gun-related calls 2010 up from 476 calls in 2009.
The sheriff's office told residents and commissioners that they needed help cracking down on reckless gun use. Current laws only pertain to gun users who willingly fire onto another person's property, deputies said. Authorities have no law to use against careless gun users whose bullets accidentally stray onto neighboring properties.
More than 60 residents cramped the meeting chambers and the courthouse hallways on Monday to lobby County Commissioners before the board voted on the ordinance. While some said the stray gunfire made them fear for their lives, many others argued that the complaints didn't warrant a law they felt would weaken their Second Amendment rights.
"It's irrational to think that each call [to the Johnston County Sheriff's Office] is an individual complaint," said Jim Rockwell of Smithfield.
Rockwell argued that the same residents who were scared of gunfire likely called the sheriff on multiple occasions, and that those complaints should be addressed on a case-by-case basis instead of enacting a countywide law. Rockwell was one of many who claimed that the new law will punish responsible gun owners for the recklessness of a few.
"If you want this place to look like New Jersey, you're going down the right path," Rockwell said.
"This is touching the Bill of Rights," said Paul Iadonisi, who is from the Cleveland community. "Gun shots are a symbol of our freedom."
It took more than an hour for about 15 residents to publicly opine on the proposed rules. In the end, County Commissioners sided with folks like Herbert Rosser, a Korean War vet from Raleigh whose daughter was almost hit by a bullet while sitting on her back porch in Clayton, and Lisa Toole who said her Selma house has been showered repeatedly by stray gunfire coming from her neighbor Eddie Jordan's property.
"We represent everybody including the silent majority," County Commissioners Chairman Allen Mims Jr. said after the meeting. "There are a good deal of people out there, not just in Selma, that were in bad need of laws to provide them a safer environment."
“The KKK rides again” (long-time NC residents will get the reference)
“Lisa Toole who said her Selma house has been showered repeatedly by stray gunfire coming from her neighbor Eddie Jordan’s property. “
I find it extremely difficult to believe this isn’t already covered under an existing law. I wonder if its even true.
if those are the new rules i cant imagine why you need an exception for hunting?::
-While intoxicated by a controlled substance, as determined by an investigating officer.
-Two hours after sunset to one hour before sunrise.
The leftward march of North Carolina continues...
I have no problem at all with laws making it unlawful to shoot at my house just for the heck of it.
An alternative, though, would be a law to allow folks to FIRE BACK in the direction of any incoming rounds ~ without fear of prosecution or civil suit.
Yeah, that'd be the way, particularly if you had the use of some sort of device to measure the trajectory so you could come right back down on the shooter. Put it on "auto fire" and go to dinner or something. Read about who it was on the internet the next day maybe.
1. This ordinance is a result of hoplophobes from NY, NJ, and the Northeast moving to Johnston County. These libs always bring their statist agenda with them, having ruined the craphole states they fled from.
2. At least two of the commissioners said they wouldn't vote for the ordinance, but the final vote was unanimous. It smells like some commissioners were bought off.
3. This is a solution in search of a problem. Most of the complaints were coming from a very few people. Moreover, this ordinance will NOT stop the daytime noise complaints, which were the original impetus for the ordinance.
4. The county and some of the municipalities are hiring beaver hunters who are FIRING ACROSS PROPERTY lines. I have talked to a man who had this happen on his property. Will the ordinance apply to county and city agents? Of course not. They are "The Only Ones" (as David Codrea says) who should have guns.
5. It's an example of how even local government is becoming full of statist politicians who think that MORE GOVERNMENT is the solution for every problem.
Sickening hoplophobia and statism. And I was going to buy land and move there. Nope. Not now. I will go to a county that is more free.
All my firearms expell projectiles by the action of burning, not explosion.
Any one have any pictures of firearms that use the "explosion" thing?
It will be struck down on cultural/religious grounds, because as we all know some major ethnic groups believe that to celebrate a major event, you must fire guns into the air.
Darn it! How am I supposed to have a good birthday party now?
Can a charge of anti-Islamic bias be far behind?
How am I going to get my possum stew, if I can't hunt after sundown?
Yup. If I was friendly with the neighbors, the first time it happened, I'd politely mosey over, inform them of what was happening, and tell them to stop. Next time would involve law enforcement.
If I was unfriendly with them, I'd skip the "First Time".
But, as you speculated, I'm guessing that this person heard a gun go off, once, and now feels the need to jump on the bandwagon. Whether she's got a political agenda, or is just a random kook, I dunno.
However, if she is telling the truth, there's no excuse for handling firearms irresponsibly. It only takes one fool to give us all a bad name.
“...i cant imagine why you need an exception for hunting?...”
Some people go ‘coon hunting (for raccoons) at night. I don’t know about ‘possums and such, or varmints like coyotes.
Sounds like the lair of the Missing Link has surfaced.
First, we read about houses being “showered” with stray bullets from a female (what a surprise!) complainant. Then we read that the local trough feeders and their lawers drafted a law banning certain acts at certain times if the act included an “explosively powered” projectile.
Bad News, Smoke Pole shooters!
The rest are shooting propellant powered guns and are thus exempted.
Gotta love what happens when Liberals and lawyers put their minds together to solve a ‘problem’!
Interesting point, I wonder what a judge would decide on that difference.
IMHO, would depend on whether a judge or a ‘marsupial magistrate’ heard the case.
Below is the response I sent to the Herald. We will see what they do with it. The more I interact with Chairman Mims, the less I like his approach to governance.
Jim Rockwell here. Thank you for your coverage of this issue, I think it an accurate interpretation of the meeting as far as they went. I would also like to thank the folks who came out to express their opinions on this topic. The vast majority of who were against the ordinance. With all due respect to chairman Mims, If the majority are silent, how do you know what they want and need. The majority of the folks that I have heard on this topic were against it. My understanding is that the majority of email and other correspondence were against it as well. These are his words, not mine. In the last work group meeting on this ordinance he said (and I paraphrase here) “The majority of email comments were against the ordinance. But, a lot of the responses were forwarded form letters and so I think it’s 50/50.” I’m sorry Mr. chairman, not everyone who has an opinion has the time or the literary craft to express their views. If they forwarded a document to you that expresses their opinion, they have sent you guidance and a vote it is your job to represent them. I will also point out that the last statement followed the opening words by chairman Mims in that same meeting “The school has them (referring to the residents of Johnston County) for a few years, but we have them from cradle to grave.” How arrogant can you get. It is clear that chairman Mims considers his constituents to be no better than children and incapable of making decisions for themselves and who would surely be lost and die a horrible death without his psychic power to hear the unspoken voice of the people. I don’t know how the county has survived so far without his august and omnipotent person at the helm.
Now on to the issue at hand. This ordinance is a knee jerk response to the “arguably” justifiable complaint from some of the attendants of the public hearing. The one thing that was not obvious in the article was the overwhelming objection to the ordinance. There were several supporters but the vast majority of attendees were there to show their objection. I believe that this overwhelming objection to the ordinance was also expressed in email and other correspondence with the commissioners. I base this on comments made by the chairman in one of the work group meetings.
The objections are numerous and profound. The summary is below.
1. Most important: It is clear that the process by which this ordinance was passed was tainted by personal agenda. If you watch the video of the public hearing you will see the chairman repeatedly trying to get people to admit that they agree with or can live with the ordinance. This was the same in the work group meeting and is also consistent with comments made by some of the citizen members of the work group; namely “they are going to pass something all we can do is minimize the damage,” or words to that effect.
So, in spite of the fact that the number of complainants is fewer than 0.3% have passed an ordinance that restricts the activities of the remaining 99.7% or the residents in the county. These numbers are not hyperbole, they are based on the sheriff’s office reports of an average of about 500 complaints/yr. over the last two years of shots fired. Which leads to the next problem.
2. The data from the sheriff’s office was only made available at the last work group meeting and consisted of simply the number of complaints. There was no data on the nature of the complaints or any resulting citations. Nor, did it identify multiple complaints from the same person for the same reason.
Without identifying the nature of the complaints and therefor the problem (if any), there is no way to come up with a reasonable solution. This also supports the idea that there was an agenda other than solving a problem.
What has resulted is a poorly written ordinance that is just as likely to allow un-neighborly people the ability to harass their law abiding neighbors as it is to ever prevent a stupid person from doing something stupid (which seems to be the problem that initiated this whole thing).
This perspective is also born out by the county attorney’s attempts during the public hearing to tighten up the language so that non-profit events (and the like) would not be excluded from the sobriety and reckless and heedless clauses of the ordinance. If you look at the video, his attempts were too broad sweeping and would have undone the exception clauses. If the county attorney (who is an educated and experienced fellow) has a hard time making sense of the language, how do you think the common person or a deputy in the field will deal with it.
3. There are many more specific issues, not all of them were brought up during public hearing and that hearing went on for hours, Some of this issues included: the county redefining firearms, noise is already covered under the noise ordinance singling out guns makes this gun legislation, enforcement issues and risks to citizens and law enforcement officers, second amendment issues, forth and fifth amendment issues, potential law suits and much more.
I said that I would be brief, and I fear I have already failed at that.
Given the lack of data to even define the problem properly, to pass an ordinance that’s punishment might cost a person hundreds of dollars or land them 30 days in jail is irresponsible. Add that to language that even the county attorney has a problem reconciling and you have to ask some questions:
1. Who pushed this ordinance through in spite of its obvious failings and why?
2. If this is the nature of how ordinances are created with this group of commissioners, what else is being done?
3. Does the lack of deliberation among the commissioners at the end of the public hearing and their not asking for more time to consider the concerns expressed in that meeting demonstrate a form of contempt for the people who gave up their time to be at multiple meetings, lent their talents to help identify and fix the problem and/or email, fax and call the commissioners with their opinions.
4. Is this group of commissioners being responsive to desires of their constituents or are they driven by personal, social or political dogma that is inconsistent with the needs and desires of Johnston County.
I have obtained some data from the sheriff’s office or calls over the last two years, I will try to cross reference that with data from the clerk of the court to see if we can get to the source of the problem. I will publish the raw and compiled data. I have also requested the commissioners reverse themselves at the next meeting. Hopefully we can get this fixed.
I encourage you to contact the commissioners and express your opinions and desires. It is their job to respond reasonably to us and our job to make sure they do or vote them out.
“I predict future happiness for Americans if they can prevent the government from wasting the labors of the people under the pretense of taking care of them.” - Thomas Jefferson
This is a great response. I applaud your efforts!