The Orange County Board of Commissioners approved a firearms safety committee on Feb. 16 to get residents involved in talks regarding firearms ordinances. This month, the commissioners are looking for Orange County residents to become part of the dialogue.
“The idea (behind the committee) is to bring some people together that think we don’t need any changes and people who do,” said Orange County Commissioner Barry Jacobs.
The firearms safety committee will discuss the purpose of added firearms regulations, safety concerns and review similar ordinances from neighboring counties, according to an email sent out by the county commissioners' office.
Jacobs said the committee would be looking at Durham and Lenoir counties' firearm ordinances in greater detail.
The committee will consist of eight members of the community, as well as personnel from various departments, who will open up meaningful conversations about firearms in the county. The committee will also advise or make recommendations to the board in a course of action regarding firearm regulations in the county.
Earl McKee, chairperson of the board, said there have been concerns about whether a committee was needed or not. McKee said at the meeting on Feb. 16, when they approved the formation of this committee, there were regulations proposed regarding firearms that were turned down.
“I can say this was prompted by concerns of citizens about the discharge of firearms,” McKee said. “We also have a lot of folks that exercise their Second Amendment right — we were just trying to find a middle ground.”
Andy Stevens, a representative for Grass Roots North Carolina, a volunteer organization that educates and engages the public about preserving firearms rights, said the board should drop the issue of firearms regulations altogether.
Stevens said it is important for the government not to interfere in personal property rights.
"If you do put (a firearms noise ordinance) in place, law enforcement will be on a wild-goose chase looking for transient noise not in accordance to the ordinance," he said.
But Jacobs said a committee would be the best way to have a conversation about firearm regulations.
“Rather than try and drop the subject totally and rather than work things out in a huge meeting, it seemed more intelligent (to talk about firearms) in a less fraught environment with the sheriff to answer questions and to try and talk through some of the issues,” Jacobs said.
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