Gun owners get fired up at public hearing over NC county’s proposed gun ordinance

North Carolina news

GUILFORD COUNTY, N.C. (WGHP) — A proposal to change the current firearm laws in Guilford County has some gun owners fired up.

On Thursday, dozens of people on both sides of the proposal spoke out during a board of commissioners’ public hearing. 

“Just because you write a pretty new ordinance does not mean that they can’t stop stupid,” said one public speaker who opposed the changes.

The proposed draft would limit the use of guns on private property.

Chairman of the Guilford County Commissioners Skip Alston said the existing ordinance has not been reviewed in 36 years. 

“We want to make sure the people who are shooting have a right to shoot with the proper equipment,” Alston said. “We also want to protect their neighbors so that the shots that are fired, the friendly fire does not come back to haunt them.”

Alston said it’s time to revisit the ordinance after complaints and several cases of stray bullets injuring innocent bystanders.

Guilford County Sheriff’s Captain J. Corbett spoke in favor of the new moves and a clear form of enforcement. He said calls for shots heard have doubled within 15 years. Deputies responded to 502 calls in 2005 compared to 1,049 calls in 2020.

The new safety recommendations include: 

  • A minimum distance of 150 yards from a structure or road
  • A re-enforced berm or backstop for firing, extending a minimum of four feet from the target
  • Restricting shooting to between 8 a.m. and 9 p.m.
  • A time limit, up to three hours, for someone to fire on private property per day

McLeansville resident Eric Ljung doesn’t agree with the proposed restrictions. He has a private firing range in his backyard thinks the laws in place are enough.

“The county overstepping and trying to dictate what people can and cannot do on their own property,” Ljung said. “I’m hoping the county commissioners just decide or come to their senses and say look we’ve already got laws on the books, let’s just enforce those.”

Alston told FOX8 the changes are needed as Guilford County has grown in population. He said hunting or existing firing ranges would be exempt from the proposed regulations.

If the measure passed it could mean a fine of up to $500 for people who don’t follow it. 

“Our intent is not to limit the use of your guns, your ownership of guns,” Alston said. “We just want to make sure you’re responsible and considerate of your neighbors.”

Commissioners did not vote on the proposal Thursday. 

Alston said he plans to work with both sides on a committee to come to some sort of agreement for the ordinance.

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