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Between Neighbors want county to curtail the nearby shooting

Criminal charges rejected due to lack of a law

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Posted: Wednesday, August 21, 2019 12:00 am

BETWEEN — Residents of one Walton County neighborhood are pressing their commissioners to crack down on gun ranges.

A half-dozen or so residents from St. Martin’s Estates off New Hope Church Road came to the Board of Commissioners meeting to ask for laws that limit the ability for people to shoot firearms near neighborhoods.

Barry Turner, who served as the spokesman for the group, said the owner of a nearby gun range was cited last year for disturbing the peace and reckless conduct, but the charges were tossed when a Superior Court judge found Walton County has no ordinances about shooting.

Turner said the shooting has been an issue the entire 2 1/2 years he’s lived on Brockington Creek Path.

“At first it was kind of occasional; he just did it every so often, and there were trees involved so that kind of cut down on the noise, but when my neighbors began complaining about finding the bullet holes in his roof, it started to become nerve-wracking,” Turner said.

Turner said people using the gun range were shooting toward the subdivision.

After the Board of Commissioners meeting where Turner spoke Aug. 6, his neighbors were asked to stick around for an informal meeting with county leaders. He said that didn’t go so well.

“Basically they were inclined to not do anything,” Turner said. “Tempers got a little raised, but what I think they’re going to do is take some commissioners and the sheriff and a couple of deputies over there and look at it.

“I know it’s not safe because it’s in his backyard, and he’s shooting directly at our neighborhood. If anything goes awry, the bullets go into the connecting property and into our neighbors’ backyard.”

Turner said he’s been meeting with Chairman Kevin Little for nearly a year.

“He knows exactly and he even tells us it’s a serious issue in the county. … They have to look at it as countywide.”

Turner said he and his neighbors want an ordinance that prohibits shooting firearms close to a residential area.

“There is something in the state where you cannot shoot a firearm within 200 yards of a school zone,” he said. “OK, what’s the difference, school zone or neighborhood?”

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  • gguldens56 posted at 9:37 pm on Wed, Aug 21, 2019.

    gguldens56 Posts: 3

    Here is the OCGA, Section 41-1-9, related to sport shooting ranges:

    (a) As used in this Code section, the term:

    (1) "Person" means an individual, proprietorship, partnership, corporation, or unincorporated association.

    (2) "Sport shooting range" or "range" means an area designated and operated by a person for the sport shooting of firearms and not available for such use by the general public without payment of a fee, membership contribution, or dues or by invitation of an authorized person, or any area so designated and operated by a unit of government, regardless of the terms of admission thereto.

    (3) "Unit of government" means any of the departments, agencies, authorities, or political subdivisions of the state, cities, municipal corporations, townships, or villages and any of their respective departments, agencies, or authorities.

    (b) No sport shooting range shall be or shall become a nuisance, either public or private, solely as a result of changed conditions in or around the locality of such range if the range has been in operation for one year since the date on which it commenced operation as a sport shooting range. Subsequent physical expansion of the range or expansion of the types of firearms in use at the range shall not establish a new date of commencement of operations for purposes of this Code section.

    (c) No sport shooting range or unit of government or person owning, operating, or using a sport shooting range for the sport shooting of firearms shall be subject to any action for civil or criminal liability, damages, abatement, or injunctive relief resulting from or relating to noise generated by the operation of the range if the range remains in compliance with noise control or nuisance abatement rules, regulations, statutes, or ordinances applicable to the range on the date on which it commenced operation.

    (d) No rules, regulations, statutes, or ordinances relating to noise control, noise pollution, or noise abatement adopted or enacted by a unit of government shall be applied retroactively to prohibit conduct at a sport shooting range, which conduct was lawful and being engaged in prior to the adoption or enactment of such rules, regulations, statutes, or ordinances.

    As long as the range is in compliance with the law BEFORE a local law was written, the new law cannot be applied to it.

    Again, as long as the activity is safe, the range or owner(s) cannot be sued. If the report about bullet holes in the roof are accurate, then there should reasonably be a projectile somewhere in the attic space that could be recovered and identified to show that the gun owner was not shooting safely.

  • gguldens56 posted at 1:31 pm on Wed, Aug 21, 2019.

    gguldens56 Posts: 3

    State law supersedes all local laws and local jurisdictions are specifically prohibited from passing laws more restrictive than state law.

    As long as the people are complying with state law, the complaints are not able to be acted upon.


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