Wednesday, February 9, 2011

Feb 8 Firearms Workgroup Meeting: Discussion and Impressions

   Dear Friends,
   Last night I went to the Johnston County Firearms Work Group meeting. You can see some of the local press coverage of the meeting here and here. Previous coverage on the issue can be found here.
   To recap the developments to date, the initial proposal advanced by the County Planning Board was problematic for those of us with an abiding interest in preserving our Right to Keep and Bear Arms.  As a result, a group of concerned citizens and some of the County Commissioners and County Staff was formed to examine the issues at hand and come up with a better solution to balance the divergent points of view. The Good Neighbor Firearms Ordinance Work Group was formed and set to work. In a January meeting they started addressing some of the problems - a summary of which can be found here.  They continued working thorough the issues and published a second revision that was discussed in last night's meeting.
   Over 50 members of the public were in attendance in addition to 12 from the Work Group. The Work Group was Chaired by the Board of Commissioners Chairman Allen Mims who started by introducing the panelists (a list of the members and their contact information can be found here). They commenced to work by going through revised proposal line by line. The goal was to find consensus and also to discuss points where further work was needed.  Among the areas were: what defines a person "impaired" by drugs or alcohol, when firearms could be discharged, and practical considerations on how the ordinance would be enforced.
   Throughout the group's discussion, I was impressed with the thoughtfulness, respect and insights that each member contributed to the process. All in all, it was a productive and worthwhile discussion and all of the citizens of the County can be satisfied by the way in which this is being handled.
   Once the panel worked though the proposal, Chairman Mims opened the floor to public comment. Passions were high, but opinions were expressed respectfully and I am satisfied that all were fully heard. Gun owners were concerned that their right might be in jeopardy while other residents were equally impassioned that they wanted to be safe in their homes. One thing both sides shared was a desire to enjoy the quality of life that we so highly value. Some points of misunderstanding were resolved and suggestions on how to improve the proposed ordinance to the benefit of all Johnston County residents were incorporated.  As the meeting ended, I was left with the impression that both the Work Group members and the citizens in attendance could be assured that their thoughts on the matter received a fair hearing.
   Once the language is finalized, check back here or visit the Johnston County Firearms Work Group web site for updates on future meetings and updates to the proposed ordinance.
   As a resident of Johnston County, I'd personally like to thank the members of the workgroup for their service to their neighbors and to the concerned citizens who took the time to attend the meeting. I am appreciative everyone's contributions in ensuring that this will continue to be a great place to live.
   Tom Goffe

Monday, February 7, 2011

Update: Good Neighbor Firearms Ordinance Work Group

     Dear Friends,
     At this morning's Johnston County Commissioner's meeting, the Board of Commissioners Chairman Allen L. Mims, Jr. mentioned that the Good Neighbor Firearms Ordinance Work Group would be meeting in the EOC on Tuesday, Feb. 8 at 6:00 and invited the other commissioners and all in the audience to attend. He also said that he expects the proposal will be finalized and that it would be on the agenda of the Board of Commissioner's meeting on March 7, 2011 at the evening session (6:00) along with public comment at that time.
     The most recent edition of the proposed ordinance can be found here.
     I intend to be at both meetings and hope that other concerned members of the public will attend. If you'd like to provide them with your views on this issue, you can use their comment page to send your thoughts.
     Sincreely yours,
     Tom Goffe

Friday, February 4, 2011

Johnston County Firearm Ordinance Working Group Meeting on Feb. 8

Dear Friends,

A battle has been brewing for the last couple of months on regulating the discharge of firearms in Johnston County utilizing zoning regulations.  The first couple of attempts at imposing the earliest (and most restrictively draconian) versions aroused substantial public interest - particularly among supporters of our Right to Keep and Bear Arms.  As a result, the Good Neighbor Firearms Ordinance Work Group was formed to involve interested citizens in coming up with an ordinance that would satisfy both sides in this contentious issue. The following announcement of the next meeting is posted on the Johnston County web site.

The Good Neighbor Firearms Ordinance Work Group will be meeting on Tuesday, February 8, 2011 at 6:00 p.m. for the purpose of discussing a proposed Johnston County firearms ordinance.  The meeting will be held in the Emergency Operations Center of the Johnston County Courthouse Law Enforcement Building located at 120 South Third Street, Smithfield, North Carolina.  Anyone attending this meeting should use the Courthouse Law Enforcement Building entrance located on Third Street. 
Please note that a final draft of the proposed firearms ordinance will be considered by the Johnston County Board of Commissioners during a public hearing to be scheduled and advertised at a later date.

I hope you will take a look at the most recent draft ordinance, and join me at the upcoming meeting to voice our interest and concerns about this issue.

Sincerely yours,
Tom Goffe

NC State Senator Introduces Anti-Hunting BIll

Dear Friends,

Senator Ellie Kinnaird (D-23) yesterday (Feb 3) introduced NC SB 35 which proposes to outlaw all deer hunting with dogs within Orange County. At this point, her proposal has not attracted any co-sponsors. You can track the status of this bill at this link.

The text of the bill is short and to the point:


The General Assembly of North Carolina enacts:

SECTION 1. It is unlawful to hunt deer or attempt to take deer with the aid of dogs at any time.

SECTION 2. Violation of this act is a Class 3 misdemeanor.

SECTION 3. This act is enforceable by law enforcement officers of the Wildlife Resources Commission, by sheriffs and deputy sheriffs, and by peace officers with general subject matter jurisdiction.

SECTION 4. This act applies only to Orange County.

SECTION 5. This act becomes effective October 1, 2011, and applies to acts committed on or after that date.

Once it is assigned to a committee, I hope you will join me in letting the members know that laws like this are contrary to our hunting heritage and will be opposed by conscientious sportsmen.

Tuesday, January 18, 2011

Two Students Hurt in Accidental L. A. School Shooting

     Dear Friends,
     That was a headline that I read a few minutes ago.  It struck me as really odd and after a little thinking, it makes for a good story to describe how well gun control laws work.  With all the calls for restricting handgun magazine capacity, prohibiting gun possession within 1,000 feet of "high ranking governmental officials" and tightening up on gun ownership for people like the Tucson shooter we need to think through whether these proposals will work.
     According to the school shooting article, an LA school district spokesman said that a student brought a gun to school in a backpack and it went off when he dropped it. He said two people were wounded and a police spokesman said it was three. 
     Before I continue, let me state for the record that it ios my personal conviction that there is no such thing as a "gun accident."  Somewhere along the line, any unintentional discharge involves a violation of the basic rules of gun safety. Any intentional discharge is categorically the responsibility of the person who has the gun in their hand.
     My question is this: how could it have been accidental when there are plenty of laws to prevent such a thing from happening?
     Gun control laws prohibit possession of a firearm on school grounds or within 1,000 except for law enforcement personnel. Press reports indicate the gun was brought in by a student - not a police officer. It seems the law was violated here.
     Gun control laws prohibit purchase of a handgun by any otherwise legally entitled person under the age of 21.  Unless the high school student was over 21, they didn't purchase it themself.  Since that is pretty unlikely, it would seem that another law was violated.
     Gun control laws generally make it hard to possess a handgun in California unless it is an intra-familial handgun transaction. While that type of transfer is certainly possible, chances are probably better that is not the case, resulting in the violation of another law.
     Gun control laws prohibit the concealed carry of a handgun unless a person has met the licensing requirements mandated by law.  As far as I know, high schoolers generally can't meet those requirements so once again, uless subsequent reports prove otherwise I'll hazard a guess that yet another law was broken.
     It would further seem that the student who brought the gun to school (in and of itself a stupid act) did not take reasonable care to ensure it was unloaded and carried in a safe manner so as not to cause harm to others. Whether criminal negligence laws apply in this case will be up to the local District Attorney. I don't believe that I am going out on a limb by guessing that lawsuits will come out of this event.
     Now about those new gun control proposals that are currently being discussed.  It seems that "high governmental officials" probably were not within 1,000 feet of this tragedy, so that would have had not prevented this.  Press reports do not indicate that more than one round was fired, so limiting magazine capacity would not have prevented this.  Further, it is unknown whether the shooter who dropped the backpack had any identifiable mental defects that could have prevented this shooting.
     In other words, this was no accident, laws to prevent it were broken and new laws would not have prevented it.
     I'm interested in hearing your thoughts.  Please feel free to leave your comments below.
     Sincerely yours,
     Tom Goffe