From Phillip Van Cleave
NOTE DATE CHANGE: I have just learned that the Sussex County Board of Supervisors will NOT hear the proposed ordinance to restrict shooting ranges on February 17th. The ordinance WILL be coming up on March 17th at 7 PM, so if you live in the general area, mark your calendars so we can show up in force!
What I witnessed tonight makes the Fairfax County Board of Supervisors or the Norfolk City Council look like the Founding Fathers when it comes to understanding freedom and liberty.
About 20 people showed up to speak on the proposed new ordinance drawn up by the Sussex Planning Commission for shooting ranges in the County. The proposed ordinance makes opening a range in Sussex so onerous and so expensive, that no one would want to do so.
The proposal was released to the public 3 HOURS BEFORE THE MEETING and the Commission complained that no one had come to them with issues about the proposal sooner!!!!! What can you say to that level of foolishness?
Just to give you an idea, here is what the ordinance would require (I could not make this up if I tried):
* Ranges can only be open 6 days a week – all of them must be closed on Sunday. If the range is within 1,000 feet of a school, church, or place of “public assembly,” the County would reserve the right to reduce the hours or days that the range could function however the County sees fit
* No rifles exceeding .45 caliber can be shot, except for black powder rifles. The .45 is, of course, a number they pulled out of their, er, hats (I’m trying to watch my language, but it isn’t easy.)
* Every person shooting on the range is required to read every rule and know all the gun laws – this from a Commission whose members are completely clueless on Virginia’s gun laws
* During the hours the range is open there must be a range safety officer on duty, who, before anyone can shoot, must walk the range perimeter to assure no person is in the fire zone
* No person is allowed to enter or exit the range with a loaded firearm (I told them this was illegal and preempted, but they didn’t seem to care)
* Armor piercing ammunition (such as SS109) cannot be shot (a dirt berm stops SS109 the same as it would stop any other rounds – but like I said the Commission is clueless)
* A person can waive wearing eye or ear protection (!!!!!! HOW STUPID IS THAT? And the Commission claims to be SO concerned about safety. Yeah – sure thing)
* Law Enforcement can go onto the range at any time to determine compliance with the restrictions. So much for the 4th Amendment
* There shall be a person at the range anytime it is in use who has been trained in CPR and basic first aid in case someone gets shot or hurt! I told the Commission that you have a much better chance of being hurt at a soccer game or killed in a car accident than being hurt at a shooting range
* The range must have liability insurance covering $500,000 per incident
* The range owner(s) must pass a background check
* The range must be on at least 25 acres
* There must be “Firing Range” and “Do Not Enter” signs in bright or florescent orange or red and the signs must be a minimum of 18 inches and a maximum of 24 inches apart across the entire range boundary
* The range must be approved by the NRA, but even with NRA approval the County can reject the range’s application (they are trying to put the NRA in the middle of this). No NRA officials were present at the meeting
* Finally, the County would reserve the right to make any other requirements that they want
And all of the above were deemed perfectly reasonable by the County Attorney and the Planning Commission! I’ve said it before and I’ll say it again: those of you in rural counties had best start getting involved in local government. Those of you in Sussex and surrounding counties, if this doesn’t wake you up, I’m not sure what will.
They asked me questions when I was through speaking:
One of the Commission members, Chairman Steve White, who claimed to have a CHP, said that a lot of people who carry guns use them to scare and intimidate other citizens. I asked him if that is what he does when HE carries a gun. He dodged that hardball.
Ms. Terry Massenburg liked the requirement to have someone on site all day long who knows CPR and first aid. She asked what responsible person would run a range without such a thing. I asked her if she wanted every hunting blind in their county to also have someone standing nearby who knows CPR. (I probably shouldn’t have given her any more clever ideas.)
One of the local ranges was there with representatives. Their President did a great job, but a few of their members really muddied the waters with comments that seemed almost anti-gun at times. One said, for example, that he agreed with 70% of the proposed regulations, but not 30% of it. WHAT? I hated 100% of it! This wasn’t about safety – the entire thing was meant to completely discourage any and all ranges in the County.
I told the Commission that their proposed regulations made it easier to open a nuclear power plant than to open a shooting range! I said that freedom and liberty did come at some risk, but that Americans wanted their freedom more than they wanted safety supplied by an ever intrusive government.
Do I sound angry? You bet I am.
Those of you in surrounding counties, don’t think this mentality can’t spread where you are, too.
***The Board of Supervisors is going to hear this proposal and vote on it on SEE NOTE AT TOP OF THIS POST.*** We need to turn out big-time and tell them to take this proposal, drop it in the toilet, and send it off to where it deserves to be.
If you are anywhere near Sussex County, please show up and stand with VCDL on this or don’t complain when your ranges dry up and blow away. It’s your choice.