Johnston County, NC, Attempts to Ban Spit-balls

Okay, maybe not, but I’m told that the proposed ban on shooting any projectiles within 600 feet of any dwelling may be broad enough to include arrows, BBs, and pellets.

Looking here it’s apparent the Board of Commissioners has gotten significant feedback. Significant enough to postpone the hearing. Well, let’s just say that based on the wording of Chairman Allen L. Mims, Jr.’s memo (pdf), I don’t have a lot of warm fuzzies. This whole idea needs to be scrapped.

Here’s what I will be sending to the Johnston County Board of Commissioners, possibly via postal mail due to it’s length. Please feel free to continue to give them feedback telling them what you think of this nanny state proposal.

UPDATE: I see from the December 20, 2010 memo by the Chairman that this hearing has been postponed pending the outcome of a working group study. I believe all of my statement below is still relevant. Even more so given this wording from the aforementioned memo:

…the Board and I have decided to develop a workgroup, consisting of Commissioner, staff and citizen representatives, who will review the proposed firearm ordinance, address the citizen concerns and develop a revised ordinance that is mutually acceptable among us all.

The concern this raises is that I believe NO ordinance will be acceptable. Existing laws against reckless endangerment already cover the necessary concerns. This is not about safety. This is about control.

Originally planned statement for January 3rd hearing follows:

Not to focus on the distance, but has anyone done the math on the 600ft number? That would essentially require a minimum of about 32 acres in order to comply. That’s assuming a square lot and a dwelling on one corner and shooting in the center to guarantee that no neighbors’ dwellings are closer than that same 600ft away. And this doesn’t even take into account the travel distance of the bullets from the shooting position to the target.

At a family member’s house in NH, a racoon had to be eliminated due to its insistence on preying on their chickens. This was carried out with a 12 gauge shotgun maybe 50 yards from house.

Will this be prohibited?

At the same family member’s house, a squirrel had to be eliminated due the damage it was doing to their deck. This was carried out with a 20 gauge shotgun directly under the deck, a few feet from the house.

Will this be prohibited?

We also shot clay targets off the deck of that house.

Will this be prohibited?

At a friend’s house outside of Angier in Johnston County, we shoot at a target 100 yards away from a position mere feet from his own house.

Will this be prohibited?

No neighbor has ever complained. No one was ever injured or killed. All necessary safety precautions were taken. All four of Colonel Cooper’s rules were followed.

According to the North Carolina State Center for Health Statistics, of the 84 accidental deaths (page 32) in Johnston County in 2009

  • 31 were transport accidents (pedestrian, passenger, driver)
  • 24 were falls
  • 16 were poisonings and other accidental exposures
  • 6 were drownings or other threats to breathing
  • 4 were fire related
  • 1 was contact with a venomous animal
  • 1 was heat exposure
  • and 1 was firearm related.

I have no details on what this one Johnston County accidental firearm death was, but I would think an investigation was done and the responsible party was held accountable according to existing law. Given that 7 of those 31 accidental transport deaths were pedestrians, why are we not proposing a ban on driving within 600ft of any dwelling or within 600ft of any pedestrian walkway? If a law against a relatively safe, but not 100% risk free activity could prevent accidents, surely we should be focusing on the 7 pedestrians our county lost last year to transport accidents before even embarking on consideration of a target shooting, hunting, and pest control ban, should we not?

In all seriousness, I believe every member of this board knows that neither regulation makes sense. We already have laws against reckless endangerment.

I’m sure many private ranges exist across North Carolina which are very near dwellings. I have not heard of any confirmed reports of poor safety records that cannot be addressed by current laws. I’ve shot at one of these with the shooting position only a few feet away from the house.

Ask anyone with a barn how often they have to eliminate rats, possums, or other pests.

This is not about public safety. If it were, we would be hearing about these supposed investigated and confirmed unsafe ranges at this hearing. And even if we do, there are already legal avenues to address those problems.

We don’t need this ordinance. This is not about public safety. This is about control.

Many of us here understand that there may be some on this board who will choose to ignore the facts presented here tonight about the foolishness of this proposal. So let me take a few more moments to explain what will happen should this pass, or frankly, even if it doesn’t, but there are any affirmative votes for it.

Is it possible that this Board did not get the message of the last election? It’s not just about the economy. It’s certainly not just about messaging. Make. Government. Stop. Out of the seven board members here, three ran for re-election in 2010, each of them unopposed. In 2012, the other four will be up for re-election. I will make a promise to you here and now that if this ordinance passes due to your vote, I will make every effort to rally the citizens of Johnston County to ensure you do not run unopposed in 2012. And that goes for the three who ran in 2010 if you should run for re-election in 2014. And we will make it a central issue of the election.

In the current political climate, many more like me have awakened from our slumber and decided that voting is not enough and even contributing to campaigns is not enough. We will not stop until those who vote for this ordinance are removed from office.

We will be contacting Sheriff Steve Bizzell and requesting that he instruct his deputies to ignore this ordinance and refuse to enforce it.

We will also be contacting Susan Doyle and asking her to do what one brave Wisconsin District Attorney did recently. He has refused to enforce Wisconsin’s unconstitutional restrictions on the right to keep and bear arms. We will be asking District Attorney Doyle to refuse to prosecute any charges of violations of this ordinance.

Both of them will also be put on notice that they will not run unopposed in their respective primaries next time they are up for re-election should they not agree to refuse to file charges or prosecute cases, respectively.

If this ordinance passes, in addition to a future, concerted campaign to unseat you, we will host a ‘Disobey Ordinance 16-3’ shoot. We will shoot on my friend’s property outside of Angier, but inside Johnston County, a mere few feet from his house at a target 100yds away. We may limit it to .22LR or .22 Short ammo at a closer range, but it will be our symbolic way of saying, NO MORE. Everyone attending will be required to take at least one shot, a .22 Short from a single action revolver if they want. All seven members of this Board will be invited as well as anyone on our side with this issue. There will be food, there will be talk that some government officials, possibly some of you, would disapprove of, and there will be some good, fun noise.

We will even consider making it a monthly event until the ordinance is repealed.

Something else will likely happen. As I’ve indicated, you’ve awakened a sleeping giant. And frankly, I expect to lobby for what I’m about to propose regardless of what is done here with this ordinance. It’s just that if this passes, I will pursue it with much more vigor. You see, North Carolina has a toothless firearms pre-emption law. Places like Chapel Hill, Cary, and Durham have been testing its limits. Both Pennsylvania and Florida have much stronger pre-emption laws, but County Boards and City Councils in both states have been ignoring those laws with impunity.

So at least in Florida, a new approach is being taken. If the proposal passes, County Commissioners, City Councilors, Law Enforcement Officers, and Prosecutors will be held criminally responsible, personally, for ignoring the statewide pre-emption of firearms laws. This will be on top of 18 USC 241, Conspiracy to Violate Civil Rights, or 242, Violation of Civil Rights Under Color of Law.

Grass Roots North Carolina indicates that with the recent elections, there is a much stronger pro-gun contingent in the NC state legislature. We will push for a firearms pre-emption law in North Carolina that has these kind of teeth, along with a revamp (elimination in most cases) of most gun laws at the state level.

And just so you understand where we stand in this negotiation, let me say this. We have come here because, metaphorically speaking, someone has threatened to cut off our right leg. We have to wonder if the hope was that we would settle for, oh, say, just giving up our left foot. Let me straighten out this potential misperception. We were threatened, metaphorically speaking, with amputation. Our position is that we are changing the starting point of this negotiation. We’ve come, metaphorically speaking, for both legs of those who are proposing this ordinance. And our hope is that everyone leaves with all of their limbs in tact. Metaphorically.

In short, back off.

For 75 plus years, gun owners have backed up upon every new gun regulation. We are here to say…NO MORE! NOT ONE MORE INCH!

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