Thanks to the vocal and supportive NRA members in North Carolina, attention has been brought to a looming threat regarding target shooting on private property in Johnston County.
On August 6, the Johnston County Board of Commissioners voted to approve a new noise ordinance that is clearly designed to put an end to the practice of recreational shooting on private property. A second required vote will take place next Tuesday, September 4, in the Commissioner’s Room at the Johnston County Courthouse Annex at 6:00 p.m.
Please make plans to attend this scheduled meeting to encourage the County Board of Commissioners to reject this ordinance! The address is 207 East Johnston Street, Smithfield, NC 27577.
If you cannot attend this meeting in person, please contact members on the County Board of Commissioners and urge them to vote NO on this ordinance. Contact information to members can be found here.
The issue of recreational shooting on private property has been an ongoing discussion in Johnston County. In November 2010, there was a draft ordinance introduced that addressed recreational shooting. Rather than pass what was a flawed proposal, however, the Board of Commissioners agreed to establish the Good Neighbors Firearms Ordinance Work Group. This was made up of several Johnston County residents who were interested in the issue. After several meetings in 2011, a compromise was reached, and the commissioners adopted the new ordinance on March 7, 2011.
While the issue appeared to be resolved, in March 2012, a group of residents from the Oak Ridge Subdivision appeared before the commissioners to raise a complaint about a single neighbor who was discharging firearms on his property. The group again appeared before the commissioners in May 2012 with the same complaint. According to the published minutes of these meetings, the commissioners stated they would investigate the situation. At the May meeting, the minutes indicate no legal violation had been uncovered in the investigation, but the County Attorney was instructed to draft a letter to the individual against whom the complaints were made “informing him of the concerns by the Oak Ridge Subdivision residents.” The County Attorney was also instructed “to research the matter and determine if the situation could be declared a nuisance.”
Nothing more was discussed by the Commission in subsequent meetings that related to recreational shooting on private property. In July, the commissioners took up a proposed amendment to the local ordinance regulating commercial shooting ranges. The approved minutes for the July meeting indicate this hearing was advertised to the public in The Smithfield Herald on two dates prior to the meeting. The Commission adopted the new ordinance, and the minutes reflect that it was “pointed out that the proposed amendment would not affect or change the existing Firearms Ordinance which allows for personal shooting on private property with established restrictions.”
Unfortunately, it appears something led the commissioners to decide that “personal shooting on private property” was something the county no longer desired. At the August meeting, with apparently no notification to the public, the commissioners voted to approve sweeping changes to the Noise Ordinance that will shut down recreational shooting on private property in Johnston County. The ordinance declares the “discharge of a firearm or firearms in such a manner as to create an unreasonably loud or disturbing noise” to be prohibited. The only exceptions would be for lawful hunting, protection of person or property, “or when used pursuant to lawful directions of law-enforcement officers.” Fortunately, this secretive action is not the last word, as one member of the Board was not present. Due to Commissioner W. Ray Woodall’s absence, the Board will have to vote a second time on the ordinance.
This outrageous overreaction to, apparently, a single incident of a dispute among neighbors in one community, must be reversed. Again, please contact members of the Johnston County Board of Commissioners and urge them to reject this new ordinance, and stick to the agreed regulations worked out by the Good Neighbors Firearms Ordinance Work Group in 2011. Contact information can be found by clicking here.