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

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