The Norcliffe Homeowners Association is attempting to get the Island County Commissioners to enact an ordinance that allows for the restriction of the discharging of firearms on private property through a petition process. This will not just affect the property surrounding the Norcliffe subdivision it will eventually effect anyone who may wish to use their private property in a safe manner to target practice.

The petition by the Homeowners Association supplies no facts that this is dangerous or a “reasonable likelihood that humans, domestic animals, or property will be jeopardized”* and this is the problem with this type of oridinance. Using this petition method the State law allowing for restricting of firearm usage due to safety concerns is nullified along with the use of the sherrifs department and experts to determine the safety aspect and places that in the hands of people who merely do not like the noise and signs a petition stripping us from the protections of the existing State laws.

Currently the Island County Code only allows for restrictions when there is evidence that the discharge of firearms “disturbs or interferes with the peace, comfort and repose of property owners or possessors.” Or that the discharge of firearms is unsafe.

State Law only allows for the restrictions on the discharging of firearms when:

*(a) Restricting the discharge of firearms in any portion of their respective jurisdictions where there is a reasonable likelihood that humans, domestic animals, or property will be jeopardized. Such laws and ordinances shall not abridge the right of the individual guaranteed by Article I, section 24 of the state Constitution to bear arms in defense of self or others.

This new ordinance is in response to a previous complaint made by the Norcliffe Homeowners Association against a neighbor who has a private shooting range that they are attempting to stop the operation of. You can read the previous Island Politics articles on this subject here and here.

No matter that in the case of the Norcliffe homeowner the neighbor has taken steps to make sure that his private shooting range is safe and the sheriff has inspected his shooting range and deemed it safe on several occasions. This is a clear case where a small group of people living in a housing development with covenants and bylaws wishes to extend those covenants and bylaws onto neighboring properties even though there is no evidence that there is any danger caused by this neighbors shooting range.

Below is a link to the request made by the Norcliffe Homeowners Association which attempts to allude to the fact that because there was covenents and restrictions on their property when they purchased it that there must be something inherently dangerous and a safety concern about the discharge of firearms in that area.

Norcliffe Property Owners Petition

The following laws currently govern the use of Firearms in Island County:

County Noise Ordinance  9.60.030 Public Disturbance Noises

Washington State Law RCW 9.41.300 Weapons prohibited in certain places — Local laws and ordinances — Exceptions — Penalty

Below is an e mail sent by Bill T. that really sums up the the issue:

Hunter, Shooting Enthusiast, Defender:

Please read the attachment. The Island County Commissioner workshop meeting Wednesday, November 21is expected to consider a proposed ordinance to establish a petition procedure for citizens to request commissioner action restricting the discharge of firearms within a specified area. Consideration of this item of business is “expected” to occur during the afternoon session as there are several actions scheduled for morning consideration.

 This action resulted from neighborhood residents adjoining an unplatted area where the owner has created a private range complete with berm, and bullet box, in heavy woods submitting a complaint petition. The neighboring owner/shooter evidently only shoots hand guns and small caliber rifles at the range. Earlier this year the Island County Sheriff inspected the site and determined that the range was a safe shooting facility.

 The ordnance addition proposed by (Outgoing!) Commissioner Homola has serious present and future ramifications for all gun owners in Island County, including the danger that should it be adopted, the commissioners would replace the sheriff in deciding gun safety issues. Additionally, it presents an incursion on property rights.

 Although public testimony will not be received, it is IMPORTANT that those interested in preserving gun/shooting rights attend. Please forward this to other Island County shooting enthusiasts requesting their attendance. (The “other” side will be there.)