Whidbey News-Times


Self policing can go a long way in dealing with issues | Editorial

March 9, 2013 · Updated 3:18 PM

Island County Board of Commissioners shot down a proposal this week from residents seeking no-shooting zones be implemented in their neighborhood.

The issue was brought to light last summer by residents who said they were concerned about safety because a neighbor built and was using a shooting range on his property.

Neighbors gathered signatures on a petition proposing an ordinance to help communities establish no-shooting zones and delivered it to the commissioners.

The commissioners rely on the county’s various departments to provide information and verifiable data on specific issues. In this case, the commissioners relied on information provided by Island County Sheriff Mark Brown.

The sheriff maintains his position throughout this dispute that the private firing range is “not unsafe.”

Brown also told the commissioners there are no statistics revealing that public safety is at risk, nor do those statistics support implementing an ordinance like the one proposed.

Brown compares the safety risks related to a gun range to driving — while the gun range is close to other homes, he said, the risks are similar to those taken every day by drivers as other vehicles pass them in the opposite direction and at high speeds.

In both circumstances, disaster could occur if a driver crosses the center line or a shooter aims in the wrong direction, Brown said.

It is the responsibility of the sheriff’s office to determine potential risks to the community and its citizens. Brown fulfilled that responsibility and the commissioners made an informed decision.

Those who don’t like having a shooting range next door must respect the fact that the resident who owns the gun range is within his rights to have one.

If safety is not an issue, but noise is, then it’s the responsibility of the neighbors and gun range owner to work together and find a compromise.

By limiting his own use of his gun range to reasonable hours and taking steps to ensure that safety on the range is maintained, future complaints should be minimal.

Self-policing by the gun range owner goes a long way to mitigating his neighbors’ concerns and eliminating need for new county regulations.


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