I am an Island County citizen who lives in the vicinity of Fort Nugent and West Beach Road in unincorporated Island County. Like many of my neighbors, I have signed a petition asking Island County Commissioners to designate our neighborhood a “no shooting area.”
Over the past several weeks, the Island County Board of Commissioners has been drafting changes to the current gun regulation ordinance. This is the result of being petitioned by our community because of population density and close proximity of homes.
These proposed changes would provide citizens a mechanism to petition the board asking them to evaluate a given situation in a specific area and make a determination as to whether or not there is a reasonable likelihood that humans, domestic animals or property are in jeopardy.
In fact the proposed changes, by themselves, do not establish or create additional “no shooting areas” and also provides methods to petition for the abolishment of such areas.
There will also be criteria that must be satisfied before the board will consider the petition as well as language protecting existing gun clubs/ranges and Second Amendment rights.
Island County is growing in population and continues to develop its unincorporated lands. It is time our county addresses this issue as many other counties have.
We are the second smallest county by land area of 39 counties in our state, yet as of 2012, we have the third largest unincorporated population vs. unincorporated land area at 272 people per square mile led only by Kitsap and Clark at 471 and 368 respectively.
To date, 22 of 39 counties in our state have “no shooting areas” designated in their unincorporated land areas.
Several of those have methods to petition their boards and also designate minimum safe distances from which a firearm can be discharged in proximity to a structure or building “capable of being occupied by people or domestic animals or used for the storage of flammable or combustible materials.”
Those distances range from 200 feet to 500 yards. In the case of our community, weapons are being discharged well within 200 feet of our property lines and residences.
The Board of Island County Commissioners has been provided with an abundance of factual and referenced information from 22 Washington County Codes, Washington’s Administrative Code, RCW’s and safe range design criteria from the National Rifle Association and Department of Energy Publications.
Our community has worked with the commissioners in an effort to address the concerns of parties on both sides of this issue. It is unfortunate that some have decided to make this about politics and “spin” it into an issue of gun control and property rights rather than what it always has been; an issue of public safety, well being and common sense.