NRA seeks to mobilize for no-shoot meeting in Jefferson County
By Evan Cael, Peninsula Daily News
March 21, 2007
PORT TOWNSEND, WA- Jefferson County's no-shooting zone ordinance has again drawn the attention of the National Rifle Association, which posted on its Web site a notice about a meeting Friday to consider amending the criteria for establishing a no-shooting zone.
The meeting will begin at 3:30 p.m. in the Jefferson County Superior Court courtroom on the third floor of the county courthouse, 1820 Jefferson St., Port Townsend.
Two public hearings on proposed amendments to the county's no-shooting zone policy took place in November.
Those were also publicized on the NRA's Web site.
One hearing on Nov. 6 had to be rescheduled to later that day because of an overflow crowd.
About 75 people showed up to the hearing that took place later that day and about 250 people attended a second public hearing later that month.
Nearly everyone who spoke at both hearings before the three county commissioners were opposed to looser guidelines for establishing no-shooting zones.
A couple of people spoke in favor of amendments that would allow the commissioners, the sheriff and county staff to begin the process of establishing a no-shooting zone, which includes a public hearing.
The commissioners ultimately decide if a no-shooting zone will be created and, if so, what the boundaries will be.
The current ordinance calls for a petition of at least 10 resident signatures per precinct to begin the no-shoot zone creation process.
Public comments will not be heard at Friday's meeting.
The commissioners will deliberate and are expected to make a decision about amending the ordinance.
The NRA's Web site states that attendance is "critical" at Friday's meeting.
"To date, there is no indication that there have been safety-related problems in the county or that there has been a problem in creating no-shooting zones where there is a justifiable need," said the Web site.
"There have been reports of discussions in the last year, however, regarding the creation of very expansive no-shooting zones which include large chunks of the county encompassing rural areas, private farmland and Washington Department of Fish and Wildlife and Department of Natural Resources land currently open to shooting and hunting.
"This proposal would seem to pave the way to implement such restrictive ordinances," said the NRA Web site.
Commissioner David Sullivan, D-Cape George, has drafted revisions of the original proposed amendments with the public comments from the two hearings and written comments in mind.
His proposal changes the 10 resident signatures per precinct to signatures of 10 percent of residents of a proposed no-shooting zone to begin the public process to establish such a zone.
The updates also proposes that a majority vote of the three county commissioners could initiate the public process.
Started last year
The ball for amending the ordinance began rolling in the spring of 2006.
That's when the county commissioners received messages from Sheriff Mike Brasfield requesting the initiation of public process for the creation of a no-shooting zone in the densely populated Tri-Area.
He was told the current ordinance did not give him the authority to make this request.
About the same time, a proposed no-shooting zone in Paradise Bay went before the commissioners that included a large portion of wooded state Department of Natural Resources land.
Because of these factors, the commissioners, on April 24, 2006, instructed the Planning Commission to review the criteria for the creation or dissolution of no-shooting zones contained in the county.
The original proposed amendments were a result of a Planning Commission subcommittee's review, the full Planning Commission and staff from the Department of Community Development.
There are currently eight no-shooting zones in the county: Inside the city limits of Port Townsend, Kala Point, Port Ludlow, Black Point, Brinnon, Triton Cove in Brinnon, Olympic Canal Tracts in Brinnon and South Coyle Peninsula.
Reporter Evan Cael can be reached at 360-385-2335 or firstname.lastname@example.org.