February 28, 2013
The Proposed Island County No Shooting Ordinance – Exhibit “A”, Chapter 9.06 is a really bad piece of legislation. The subject of restricting discharge and use of firearms on the County owned property of Lone Lake, Goss Lake, Honeymoon Lake, and Deer Lagoon was discussed at length at a Special Session of the Board of Island County Commissioners that was held on October 12, 2009. Bill Oakes, Public Works Director provided a Power Point presentation at the October 12, 2009 Special Session in which the following statements were made.
“Under State law, the test the Board must make to find that it can restrict the discharge of firearms is that people, property or domestic animals are reasonably likely to be jeopardized by the discharge of firearms. If that can be determined, then the Board can restrict the discharge of firearms.
Additionally, a couple of State laws combine to limit the application of noise in the restriction of firearms. If the Board were to make a determination of jeopardy, it cannot make a determination of jeopardy based solely on noise”.
Last spring, then Commissioner Angie Homola decided that, based on a petition presented to the Board of Commissioners by the Nortcliffe Community she wanted to establish procedures for the designation of additional “No Shooting Areas” throughout Island County through a petition method. These “No Shooting Areas” would include private property, not just County owned property throughout Island County. Not only was her proposal a usurpation of private property rights, but there were also some very serious infringements of the rights granted to private citizens under the 2nd Amendment. America is a Constitutional Republic, it is not a Democracy where the majority rules under all circumstances.
Ms. Homola never was able to, or never tried to make the case that the owner of the large parcel adjoining the Nortcliffe Community was jeopardizing people, property or domestic animals in the area outside of the boundaries of his property, when he was honing his shooting skills on his own private land. IN FACT, EXACTLY THE OPPOSITE WAS TRUE. A Deputy from the Sheriff’s Office responded to complaints in the area , and he stopped the landowners’ activity until proper safety features were established. Once the safety features were implemented on the landowners’ property it was deemed safe to continue his target practice.
Had Ms. Homola done her homework, this isolated incident should have ended right there, and the Nortcliffe Community should have been informed that their neighbor had every right to target practice on his own property as long as he complied with existing safety and noise regulations.
Commissioner Emerson made the following comment in her February 2013 Newsletter.
“The ordinance has taken on several forms over the course of the last few months, beginning with the most outlandish, arbitrary, and capricious language, to incorporating some needed exemptions, and now through the work of Commissioner Price-Johnson, creating a new 9 member citizens committee, so that the county commissioner board can be free of decision making responsibility”.
In light of existing State laws cited above, and in light of private property rights and finally, in light of our inviolate 2nd Amendment rights, no amount of tweaking, modifying, editing, or changing the existing draft of the Proposed Island County No Shooting Ordinance will make it acceptable, cost effective legislation. Consequently, you are requested to call for a vote on this subject immediately and table this proposed Amendment to Island County code Chapter 9.06 indefinitely.
Richard G. Bowen
2476 Avalon Lane
Coupeville, WA 98239