It’s time we had a gun range ordinance for Chatham County

by Anthony Gaeta

Pittsboro, NC – I am speaking on behalf of our neighborhood which is located in the triangle formed on the West by Silk Hope Gum Springs Road a number of miles to the Emmaus Baptist Church & School and North Carolina 87 on the East up to Chapel Ridge. We are the rural community adversely affected in the past by the operations of the military styled gun range called Range 2-A.

Gun Range signThe range has ceased operations as a commercial enterprise, due, we understand to its inability to meet the county’s noise ordinance restrictions as well as its multiple
violations of the county’s soil erosion and sedimentation regulations. However, shooting continues on the 70 acres owned by the range and numerous times members of our neighborhood have called upon the sheriff’s department to enforce the county’s noise ordinance. We understand that the sheriff is proposing amendments to the noise ordinance which would make enforcement of the ordinance difficult to administer.

We oppose any amendment that would create a disincentive for the sheriff to enforce the existing noise ordinance as we firmly believe this would adversely affect the entire county and the peaceful enjoyment of its citizens due to noxious noise from neighbors. We question the motives of the Sheriff in proposing any amendment. Is it because the sheriff is tired of our complaints to enforce the existing noise ordinance and believes that amending and possibly neutralizing the ordinance would alleviate his need to enforce it? If the county makes the noise ordinance ineffective to enforce you will virtually eliminate any ability of peaceful citizens to have lawful recourse either through the civil justice system or the sheriff’s department against intruding neighbors and their noise activities. This is a matter of our citizens ability to peacefully enjoy their property rights. It is not a matter of opposing gun rights. Many of us own guns. Many of us shoot periodically on our land. We do not oppose occasional shooting of guns on one’s property.

Secondly, we believe it is time for the county to request the county attorney to draft a gun range ordinance for the entire county. Many counties have such ordinances to
protect the rights of its peaceful citizens to enjoy their property. A gun range ordinance with setbacks from existing residences, businesses, schools and churches as well as busy thoroughfares is vital to the protection and safety of its citizens. The ordinance should have minimum acreage requirements based upon the caliber of the weapons being fired.

For example a skeet shooting range where only shotguns are being fired should not require the same acreage that Range 2-A would require where high powered, military style guns were being fired. These types of weapons can carry bullets for many miles if shot at a particular angle. The ordinance should apply to businesses and clubs organized for the predominate purpose of gun shooting. It need not apply to neighbors shooting on their own property where no commercial enterprise is involved. It should require qualified supervision during hours of operation and it should have lower decibel limitations than the county’s current noise ordinance because the sound of multiple gunshots is an excruciatingly painful sound, nothing like a loud guitar strum from Shakori Hills or some other outdoor cultural event.

We know this is a sensitive topic. I stress again this is not a matter of being opposed to the 2nd Amendment or opposed to the ownership of guns. It is a matter of peaceful enjoyment of one’s property rights. As Chatham county grows it is important that ordinances such as this be carefully crafted for the benefit and the protection of all its residents.

Mr. Anthony Gaeta spoke during the public input session of the Chatham County commissioners’ meeting on May 18.