Knitebane Manor Illos libenter devoramus qui nos opprimere velint

9Feb/11Off

If the government becomes a law-breaker, it breeds contempt for the law. It invites every man to become a law unto himself. It invites anarchy.

In Johnston County, NC a working group has been put together to create a shooting ban.  Its stated purpose is "to discuss the ordinance to see if changes can be made to address all concerned parties" rather than come right out and call it a shooting ban.  Then again, old Billy said something like, "That which we call a rose by any other name would smell as sweet."

But this doesn't smell sweet.  It smells like fertilizer.

They keep saying it's not a ban though.

That's not what I got out of the public meeting last night in Smithfield, NC.  The gist of the meeting was that the participants were there to figure out how to properly spin the ban so that not too many people would object.  One member of the group even trotted out the tired and over-played "for the children" routine.

Several people suggested that all that was needed was something to address the negligent discharge of weapons.  The representative from the Johnston County Sheriff's Department, Buck Pipkin, said that there was no firearms negligence statute in North Carolina and therefore SOMETHING had to be done.

Except the rest of the meeting was taken up with the members of the working group trying to build up a document that would restrict when I could shoot targets.  They threw in the usual sops to the police and the Elmer Fudds, but several times it was brought up that target shooting, including night shooting, would be adversely affected.  Those concerns were not taken very seriously.

The general tone was that something was going to be passed that restricted shooting.  Taking that off the table was not an option.

Today I've swapped some messages with two of the Johnston County commissioners, Allan Mims and Jeff Carver,  that are on the working group.  Referencing the comments about the lack of a negligence statute I sent this:

 

Commissioner Carver,

Last evening we were told at the working group meeting that there was currently no statute that covers the discharge of a firearm onto someone else's property and that the sheriff's department routinely tells people that there was nothing they can do about it. A quick search of NC state laws turns up this:

 

§ 14-34.1.  Discharging certain barreled weapons or a firearm into occupied property.

(a)        Any person who willfully or wantonly discharges or attempts to discharge any firearm or barreled weapon capable of discharging shot, bullets, pellets, or other missiles at a muzzle velocity of at least 600 feet per second into any building, structure, vehicle, aircraft, watercraft, or other conveyance, device, equipment, erection, or enclosure while it is occupied is guilty of a Class E felony.

(b)        A person who willfully or wantonly discharges a weapon described in subsection (a) of this section into an occupied dwelling or into any occupied vehicle, aircraft, watercraft, or other conveyance that is in operation is guilty of a Class D felony.

(c)        If a person violates this section and the violation results in serious bodily injury to any person, the person is guilty of a Class C felony. (1969, c. 341; c. 869, s. 7; 1979, c. 760, s. 5; 1979, 2nd Sess., c. 1316, s. 47; 1981, c. 63, s. 1; c. 179, s. 14; c. 755; 1993, c. 539, s. 1141; 1994, Ex. Sess., c. 24, s. 14(c); 2005-461, s. 1.)

 

It appears to me that enforcement of this statute plus a minor update to the Johnston County noise ordinance ought to be sufficient to cover the majority of complaints that the Commissioners receive.

I am somewhat troubled by the comments of Mr. Scott Andrews last night. If his recollection of the incident is accurate, the Johnston County Sheriff's Department has not been enforcing state law.

I'm also concerned as to why Mr. Pipkin stated that there was no statute that currently covers firearm discharge. I'd be interested in your thoughts on this matter.

Thank you,

 

I received this reply from Allan Mims, the chairman of both the Johnston County Commisioners and the working group:

 

Until last night I was of the same opinion as you about this law, but the problem I heard last night was proving it was willful and wanton and not just accidental by just missing a target or having an insufficient back stop. I heard we have no law for that and I heard NC did not have a careless and reckless endangerment law. I was not able to hear all of Mr. Andrews comment as several people started talking at the same time.
Thanks for your email and last nights attendance.

 

Interesting.  My response:

 

Pulling the trigger is very much a willful act. This appears more of a refusal to act by the sheriff's department upon existing state law than a need for a county ordinance. But no matter. There is another section of state law that also has a bearing on this.

§ 14-409.40.  Statewide uniformity of local regulation.
(a)        It is declared by the General Assembly that the regulation of firearms is properly an issue of general, statewide concern, and that the entire field of regulation of firearms is preempted from regulation by local governments except as provided by this section.

 

That's right.  North Carolina has a preemption  law regarding firearms.  Local governments are prohibited from passing laws that are stricter than the state if they have to do with firearms.  There are some broad exceptions like county buildings and zoning for shooting ranges, but the statute is very clear.

The response I get:

Will get legal counsel involved tomorrow!

Swell.  What a wonderful use of tax dollars.

If they want to create an ordinance that says that negligently shooting a gun, running a lawnmower, driving an ATV or other outdoor activity that causes harm to a person or damage to property will get you a fine, I'm okay with that.  If they want to include gun shots along with boom boxes and leaf blowers in the "no loud sounds after 11pm" ordinance, I'm okay with that too.

But I'm not okay with them targeting firearms.  And neither is the State of North Carolina.

They could just stop this foolishness and go do something useful (like catch the firebug that's burned down three dozen houses in the county) but they'd rather spend time and money (MY MONEY!) on this.

Yeah, it's not about restricting guns. Sure.  Gonna sell me a bridge too?

 

Posted by Knitebane

Comments (2) Trackbacks (0)
  1. I’d be interested to know your latest thoughts on this subject. I wrote a letter to the smithfield herald expressing my dislike for this half baked noise ordinance and someone else came back with a letter that was in support of the boards passing of the amended ordinance. I still believe this thing leaves to much open to interpretation. Am I wrong? I really don’t think so. What do ya think.

    • Fran, I think the problem goes deeper than the noise ordinance. I think the county commissioners are so used to having things their way that they don’t recognize any limits on their power. Even a few hundred people showing up to protest was merely an annoyance.

      The county is ripe with cronyism and nepotism and it’s high time someone shined a light on their shenanigans.


Trackbacks are disabled.