STATE OF NORTH CAROLINA BOARD OF COMMISSIONERS
COUNTY OF HENDERSON JUNE 3, 2003
The Henderson County Board of Commissioners met for a special called meeting at 7:00 p.m. in the Kaplan Auditorium at the Henderson County Library on Washington Street.
Those present were: Chairman Grady Hawkins, Vice-Chairman Larry Young, Commissioner Bill Moyer, Commissioner Charlie Messer, Commissioner Shannon Baldwin, County Manager David E. Nicholson, County Attorney Angela S. Beeker, and Clerk to the Board Elizabeth W. Corn.
CALL TO ORDER/WELCOME
Chairman Hawkins called the meeting to order at 7:02 p.m. and welcomed all in attendance stating that the purpose of the meeting was a public hearing on the proposed Ordinance to Regulate the Discharging of Firearms that the Board of Commissioners is currently considering.
Chairman Hawkins informed those in attendance that copies of the proposed Ordinance were on a table just inside the door, in case they wished to review the Ordinance.
He also stated that the Board had received numerous e-mails, letters, and a petition from citizens and they will be included as part of the record of this meeting.
Chairman Hawkins made the motion for the Board to go into public hearing. All voted in favor and the motion carried.
1. Bonnie Musslewhite - Ms. Musslewhite started by saying that she did not have a shooting range on her property. She addressed the Board as a concerned citizen. She questioned the need for the Ordinance, wondering if it was a county-wide problem or just a small group who want the Ordinance. She felt the Ordinance was better now than it was a few months ago. She stated that firearms tend to be discriminated against.
2. Gary Coffey - Mr. Coffey spoke in favor of the proposed Ordinance.
3. Bob Nelson - Mr. Nelson stated that the Commissioners had shown a lot of concern for the whole citizenry and had been responsible studying this issue at length. He did question Section 3, #3 of the ordinance which stated Apursuant to lawful directions of law enforcement officers@.
Chairman Hawkins asked Ms. Beeker to address that item. Ms. Beeker referred to the second AWhereas@ of the ordinance which had a direct quote out of the statutes, stating that in any circumstance where it is lawful for a law enforcement officer to give such a direction this Board can=t regulate that.
4. Leon Allison - Mr. Allison stated that he was a gun-rights person, a shooter and a hunter. He supports the Ordinance. He felt that there should be something added to the Ordinance about having a backstop to shoot into. He stated people need to just use common sense.
5. Bill Ponder - Mr. Ponder also felt that a backstop should be addressed in the Ordinance and then backstop would have to be defined. He also questioned the need for the Ordinance in the first place.
6. Richard Hayes - Mr. Hayes stated that he was the first person who brought up this issue because of his neighbor. Several of his cows have been shot but he can=t prove it. He stated that there are 30 or so houses about 1 mile from where the shooting is taking place. His watering trough had a bullet hole in it. He is in the direct line of fire for his neighbor, a gun owner who target practices on his property pointed toward his neighbor=s property. He shoots into a backstop. Mr. Hayes can=t comfortably work in his garden which is directly behind the neighbor=s backstop.
7. Everette Summey - Mr. Summey is a gun owner and lives in Hendersonville city limits. He can=t shoot in his backyard. He goes to South Carolina to shoot at a range. He informed the Board that there is a public shooting range in almost every county in South Carolina, two in some counties. There is not a public shooting range in Henderson nor Polk Counties.
Mr. Summey informed the Board of the Pitman Robinson Act stating AThe purpose of the Act is to provide funding for the selection, restoration, rehabilitation and improvement of wildlife habitat, wildlife management research and the distribution of information produced by the projects. This Act was amended October 23, 1970 to include funding for hunter training programs and the development, operation, and maintenance of public target ranges. Funds are derived from the 11% federal excise tax on sporting arms, ammunition, and archery equipment and a 10% tax on handguns. These funds are collected from the manufacturer by the Department of the Treasury and are apportioned each year to the State and territorial areas except Puerto Rico by the Department of the Interior on the basis of a formula set forth in the Act. Appropriate State Agencies are the only entities eligible to receive grants such as the wildlife. Funds for hunter education and target ranges are derived from one half of the tax on handguns and archery equipment.@
He stated that we have enough people that shoot in this county and hunt in this county that we ought to have a public shooting range. He felt there would be a lot of problems solved if there were a public shooting range. He stated that the only downside was that each State=s apportionment is determined by a formula which considers the total area of the State and the number of licensed hunters in the State. This program is a cost reimbursement program where the State covers the full amount of an approved project then applies for reimbursement through federal aid for up to 75% of the project expense. The State must provide at least 25% of the project cost from a non-federal source. Mr. Summey stated that there were 258,706 paid hunting license holders in the State of South Carolina in the year 2000. In the year 2000 in North Carolina there were 404,567 or almost double.
Mr. Summey stated he has no problem with the Ordinance as drafted. He thinks safety is the biggest concern.
8. Rick Moore - Mr. Moore feels he is a victim also. He stated that the victims are not after the hunters. They are just for gun control. He stated that he can=t garden on his own property, he can=t farm, he can=t mow his grass, and his daughter can=t swim in her pool. He doesn=t think the ordinance will protect the rights of the victims/property owners. He did state that he agreed with some of the ordinance. He is not against hunters.
Mr. Moore asked what the penalty was for violation of the ordinance. Ms. Beeker stated that it would be a class II misdemeanor which carries up to a $500.00 fine and up to a maximum of 30 days in jail per occurrence.
9. Joe Russell - Mr. Russell spoke in favor of a public shooting range.
10. Joe Souther - Mr. Souther said he wouldn=t pay to go shoot at a shooting range when he has property that he can shoot on.
Bob Nelson - again - Mr. Nelson made the Board aware that the shooting range on the DuPont property that was sold to the State is a state-of-the-art range and a NRA specified range. He said it was an outstanding shooting range. They ran it for over twenty years with no incident. It was only for members and their guests when DuPont was open. He felt that someone should check into the possibility of it being made available for public shooting.
Chairman Hawkins made the motion to close the public hearing at 7:42 p.m. All voted in favor and the motion carried.
Chairman Hawkins stated that it is hard to write an ordinance to legislate common sense. He thanked those in attendance for their input and especially the gentleman with the information about fees available from hunting licenses to operate shooting ranges.
Following discussion from the Board, Chairman Hawkins made the motion to adopt the proposed ordinance, effective the last day of June, with the addition of Subchapter IV as recommended by the County Attorney. All voted in favor and the motion carried.
The Board directed the County Manager to research the DuPont property shooting range.
Commissioner Messer made the motion to adjourn the meeting. All voted in favor and the motion carried.
Elizabeth W. Corn, Clerk to the Board Grady Hawkins, Chairman