Supes put off new gun law

Gun lovers have a little more time to fire at will in rural zoned areas of Albemarle County. At last night's board of supervisor's meeting, supes decided they needed more information before creating "safety zones" of 200 yards around the dwellings of neighbors, so they're sending a proposed amendment to Albemarle's firearm law to a public hearing.

The move is an outgrowth of a controversial cat-shooting in the Bentivar subdivision.

"There may be some additional thoughts that could be worked into the ordinance," says supes chair Dennis Rooker, who explains that neither Commonwealth's Attorney Jim Camblos nor Police Chief John Miller could attend the meeting.

Currently, the county code prohibits shooting on or near public roads and in any residential zoned area– but permits shooting in many of the subdivisions built in outlying areas. The issue attracted attention after he April 24 shooting of a family cat in the Bentivar subdivision in northern Albemarle.

Rooker says supes will likely revisit the issue sometime in October.

5 comments

This issue is slated for public comment at the October 4 Board of Supervisors meeting.

Actually, according to the Hook reporter, it's not slated for comment October 4, at least according to supe chair Dennis Rooker and the clerk of the supes. "Family Guy" appears to be mistaken. An October 4 hearing was the request of the county attorney at the meeting, and it was rejected.--Hook Editor

An errant bullet fired by even the lowly .22 can travel up to 2 miles before stopping if it does not hit a target or a safde backstop first. Thus a 200 yard restriction is no safer than 50 feet or even a mile. The matter of safety is determined by where the gun is pointed - not by how far away the nearest house is.

Bullets deliberately fired towards a house should have nothing to do with the deliberation over this law, as it is already illegal to fire at someone's house or cat for that matter. The 'Bentivar Cat-killer' was found guilty and sentenced to prison time for his crime. We have a body of law that already works.

The simple truth is that injuries due to errant bullets which were legally fired in Albemarle County are incredibly rare. I cannot ever remember the last time we saw such an incident. In order to obtain a hunting license in Virginia, one must undergo a 10 hour safety class with a final exam at the conclusion. While not everyone enjoys recreational shooting or hunting, it is a simple fact that the activity is extremely safe and in fact hunting results in fewer injuries and deaths every year than swimming, baseball or rock-climbing.

The Camblos proposal would not make Albemarle a safer place for anyone. Rather, it is one more way in which the Board of Supervisers can essentially flip the bird to rural people living on agriculturally-zoned property. Whether it is this or zoning to allow the latest 1,000 house mega-development, local government would seem intent on pushing out long-time residents of Albemarle County and turning the whole place into a clone of Loudoun County.

One of my best friends had a stray bullet hit his head as he was walking in to a supermarket 20 years ago. He never recovered.

I personally find guns despicable, but Americans love their guns. It is estimated that there are 238 to 276 million weapons here in the US (2003).

Today's Daily Progress seems to reveal some exemption to make the proposed law palatable:

• The discharge of a firearm in defense of person or property.

• Shooting on any target, trap or skeet range or hunting preserve existing on the day of the ordinance's adoption.

• Use of a gun to shoot any ââ?¬Å?dangerous or destructive wild animal.”

• The discharge of firearms with blank cartridges in theatrical performances, sporting events or in salutes at military funerals.