Rural residents interested in local gun rules and safety will have the opportunity soon to volunteer for the county’s Firearms Safety Committee.
The Orange County Board of Commissioners created a 14-member group Tuesday to include eight rural property owners, representing both sides of the gun issue; the county manager, attorney and planning director; and one member each from the sheriff’s office, commissioners and N.C. Wildlife Resources Commission.
Andy Sachs, a professional facilitator from the Dispute Settlement Center in Carrboro, has been asked to lead the group’s discussions, which could include whether the county needs more firearm rules, noise, lot size, cost, posting of property signs, and safety concerns.
Only property owners would vote on the final recommendations to the commissioners. Any resident can attend a county advisory group’s meetings to listen and provide feedback.
The committee is the result of the county’s months-long discussion about recreational firearms use on private land in its unincorporated areas. A few hundred people filled a Feb. 16 meeting, where the commissioners rejected rule changes limiting the hours and places that rural residents could shoot.
Andy Stevens, director of local government affairs for Grass Roots North Carolina, pointed out that the county’s existing rules aren’t in compliance with state laws. The county rules still prohibit concealed carry permit holders, for instance, from bringing their handguns into parks.
“Show us good faith this evening and table this bad, unenforceable, feel-good-but-do-nothing, expensive, time-consuming study recommendation that’s before you,” Stevens said. “Instead, deal with the more serious problems in Orange County.”
Those points are well taken, Commissioner Barry Jacobs said.
“I think as part of this group sitting down to discuss, among other things, what we asked it, (is) whether there was a purpose in having additional county regulation. We should also start with whether or not our regulations even as they currently exist comport with state law.”
An application for the Orange County Firearms Safety Committee is posted online at www.orangecountync.gov/boards. Applications should be submitted by April 15. The commissioners could appoint members in early May.