Updated Wake County firearm ordinance still being considered; no vote scheduled

Michael Perchick Image
Monday, September 19, 2022
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"Imagine not feeling it is safe to let your child play outside because you are afraid they may be hit by a stray bullet," one person told commissioners Monday.

WAKE COUNTY, N.C. (WTVD) -- The Wake County Board of Commissioners discussed the county's current firearm ordinance Monday.

This comes after several complaints from people who live in Knightdale about stray bullets hitting their homes.

There was not a vote on changing the ordinance Monday and there is no public timetable for when a vote may occur.

Commissioners and the sheriff's office said they wanted more time to look into the ordinance and complaints from citizens.

"There have been documented incidents of bullets found lodged in people's fences, walls, and homes. The shooting is happening at all hours. Imagine not feeling it is safe to let your child play outside because you are afraid that they might be hit by a stray bullet. Imagine the terror of finding bullets lodged in your home and wondering when it will penetrate a wall or window and harm you or your family members. Imagine the frustration of calling law enforcement and being told that there is nothing more than can do," said Georganne Sanders, a Wake County resident who spoke during public comment.

Two gun rights groups, Grass Roots North Carolina and Gun Owners of America, have voiced their concern with the proposed changes, including participating in previous public comments.

"I think it's largely a solution in search of a problem. There's already existing ordinances and laws to punish reckless shooters. And we shouldn't punish every gun owner in Wake County who wants to safely and responsibly discharge firearms on private property for the actions of a reckless few," said Jordan Stein, Southeast Regional Director of Gun Owners of America, who spoke at a prior meeting.

Both Stein and Paul Valone, President of Grass Roots North Carolina, specifically said they were most concerned with the first proposed change, pushing the minimum distance person can shoot from a dwelling, public building, or livestock up from 100 yards to 300 yards.

"Bullets still have plenty of energy at 300 yards. This isn't going to save anyone from a negligent discharge. And what's more, guns are not specifically quieter at 300 yards from 100 yards. So all this will do is prevent people from shooting on their property," Valone said.

"My husband and I own guns. I am not here with anti-gun views. But I do feel strongly with all the growth and development comes a responsibility to re-examine our policies and laws around gun ownership and practices. This ordinance needs to be updated to reflect the growing density of our county," Sanders said.

Online comments were not read aloud, though the county received three notes in favor of the ordinance, one note against the ordinance, and a petition with 80 signatures in support of the ordinance.

After Monday's meeting Commissioner Matt Calabria said it appeared to him that something needed to be done.

"One of the things that came out of this is a real recognition that we have an enforcement issue," he said. "Everybody agrees that if you are firing a gun and those bullets are leaving your property and entering in to somebody else's property or putting people in danger, that's a problem. So what we need to do is not just look at the law, but look at how we can enforce the good laws that we have."