LAURINBURG – Sheriff Ralph Kersey wants the county to pass a new ordinance restricting how firearms can be discharged in the county.
There is no current ordinance in place to restricting how and where guns can be fired, according to County Manager Kevin Patterson.
Kersey said he requested the change because of a rise in reports of shots fired near residences.
“They’re on their property, but they are in very close proximity to neighbors,”Patterson said. “Even though they’re in the county we still have people that are considered city lots.
“Houses are 75 feet apart, and when someone goes out of their back door at 11 o’clock at night deciding to shoot guns, right now you can do that as long as it does not rise to the point of reckless endangerment.”
The proposed ordinance would prohibit shooting within 500 feet of the property line of land that contains houses, churches, schools or other occupied buildings. It would also forbid shooting by someone under the influence of drugs or alcohol. Shooting would be allowed well away from property lines provided the shooter had set up an adequate backstop such as enough distance or a dirt berm to stop bullets. The law would not apply to legal hunters or permitted firing ranges.
Some local residents support the idea.
Brent Scott lives on Barnes Bridge Road and has not had much of a problem with people discharging firearms in his area, but supports an ordinance.
“I’ve heard gunshots, but I think it’s more or less hunters in the area,” Scott said. “I think [an ordinance] would be fine; people don’t need to be drinking and shooting anyway.”
Heather McLean is a resident of Harry Malloy Road and voiced support for the proposal. McLean says she frequently hears gunfire in her area but doesn’t know whether it is coming from hunters, target practice or some other activity. Still, she says the shooting is a hazard because there is a small community in the area.
“Right behind us, they be shooting all the time. They’re across a small woods, so luckily we’ve got that wooded area, but it’s still right there,” McLean said. “I’ve got small kids and I don’t want ricochets coming through the woods.”
Breaking the law would be considered a class 3 misdemeanor punishable by a $500 fine or 30 days in jail.
There was some discussion by commissioners Monday night as to what to include or exclude from the law.
Commissioner Carol McCall was concerned about age restrictions for minors.
Guy McCook had concerns as to how the ordinance would affect landowners who have rental property and choose to fire near those buildings.
Commissioner Bob Davis expressed dissatisfaction with the request.
“Personally, I’m not in favor of the idea. I feel like if I want to walk out on my front porch, I’m not endangering anybody and I’m not shooting at buildings or whatever, then I ought to have the right,” Davis said. “I’m not in favor of it that’s just taking some more of my rights away from me.”
The board decided to refer the issue to the policy committee to craft a proposal as to what the law would look like.
Reach Beth Lawrence 910-506-3169