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CK Safe and Quiet wants action on gun ordinance
A petition signed by more than 300 residents who live near the Kitsap Rifle and Revolver Club was presented to the Kitsap County Commission last week, demanding that the county commission adopt a county gun range ordinance.
The group, CK Safe and Quiet, presented the petition to commissioners on Feb. 24. Commissioners accepted the petition without action or comment.
Terry Allison, who has been active with CK Safe and Quiet since its inception in 2009, said neighbors in the area of the Kitsap Rifle and Revolver Club (KRRC) have been waiting for the county to pass a gun range ordinance since July 2010.
“We’re tired of waiting,” said Allison. “It’s been almost four years and we don’t even have a draft ordinance to look at.”
Allison and another member, Kevin Gross, said they’ve been told that the committee that is currently studying possible regulations and drafting the proposed ordinance will have its final meeting on March 12. The committee is expected to make recommendations to the county on what should be in the ordinance and within 30 days an ordinance should be on an agenda for commissioners to review.
There should be a public comment time of 60 days following that, and then, the commission is expected to take action.
With that time frame, Allison said, July would be about the earliest that an ordinance would be in place.
“Residents around here have endured way too much for way too long,” Allison said. “We’re tired of the noise and we’re tired of worrying about bullets leaving the range.”
The issue of regulation of gun ranges in Kitsap County has been a hot topic for a number of years, especially where KRRC is concerned. While the KRRC gun range has been in operation prior to most of the homes in the area being built, neighbors contend that the range has expanded in size and that has increased noise and safety concerns.
Neighbors want adequate berms and backstops. They want reasonable hours of operation. They worry about their children playing in their yards because at least five homes have been shot with stray bullets.
CK Safe and Quiet members say that the range also is an environmental concern because of the lead contamination and the encroachment in sensitive areas including wetlands. They point to documents from the Environmental Protection Agency that side with them on those issues.
And, while an appeal filed by KRRC is pending, Kitsap County won a lawsuit in 2012 against the club which alleged it didn’t follow development regulation and ultimately resulted in the club closing for a time. However, a subsequent ruling allowed the club to continue operation until the appeal is decided. That could take another 18 months, some sources have said.
In the meantime, CK Safe and Quiet wants the county to move on an ordinance that will “require positive projectile containment within the range boundaries and provide noise mitigation off property to the extent required by Washington State Law,” their petition states.
“This isn’t about gun control,” Allison said. “And this isn’t about Second Amendment rights. What this is really about is the safety and well-being of everyone which is what the State Constitution mandates our county commissioners to protect.”
In fact, both Allison and Gross are former Navy and both are gun enthusiasts. They aren’t against the range being there and they acknowledge that it was there before they were, although Allison has lived next-door to the range for 24 years. Gross has lived in the neighborhood since 2001. All they want is a county ordinance that protects neighbors from noise and keeps them safe.
“We just want the range to play by the rules, and in order for that to happen, there have got to be some rules.”
The Central Kitsap School District is supporting a prompt decision on an ordinance, too.
The CK school board has passed a resolution asking commissioners to finalize the shooting range ordinance as soon as possible.
School officials said the district completed an independent investigation, and is asking for an ordinance that will insure that bullets remain within the shooting range boundaries.
Its main concern is the Klahowya Secondary School which is within close proximity of the Kitsap Rifle and Revolver Club.
Meanwhile, county commissioners were expected to tour the KRRC on Wednesday in preparation for addressing a draft ordinance that should come their way in the coming months.
Marcus Carter, executive director for the KRRC, said he was aware that a petition was being circulated, but had not seen it.
“To me it sounds like a very small percentage of the residents in our area actually signed it,” Carter said. “There seems to be a real rush at this point to get something (an ordinance) in writing. I don’t understand what the rush is, other than political pressure from a very small group of people.”
CK Safe and Quiet said the 300 signatures represent about 85 percent of the residents of the immediate neighborhoods around the KRRC. Carter said he considered the 300 signatures to be a small percentage of the residents in Central Kitsap County where their range operates.
The committee studying the gun range issue and making suggestions for what should be in the ordinance includes representatives of gun clubs in Kitsap County, (including Carter), a representative of the Kitsap County Sheriff’s office and officials of the county’s department of community development. Members were appointed by the county commission.