Guilford County staff in recent weeks has billed proposed changes to the county’s gun ordinances as very small tweaks meant only to enhance gun safety.

However, that didn’t quell the fears of some gun owners who came out to address the Guilford County Board of Commissioners at a public hearing during the board’s Thursday, Aug. 5 meeting.

The commissioners didn’t adopt any changes on August 5, but it looks very much like the Guilford County Board of Commissioners ­– over the objections of the two Republican commissioners – is going to approve some changes to the county’s gun laws in the coming months.

 County staff has drawn up recommended moves ­– like requiring berms behind target ranges in some instances and establishing a mandatory distance of 150 yards between shooters and dwellings, livestock and adjoining property.

At the public hearing, the commissioners had too many speakers to hear from, and, at the end of it, Chairman of the Board of Commissioners Skip Alston told those who hadn’t had an opportunity to address the board that they could send their comments to the board in writing via email.

The discussion during and after the hearing – which, as expected, saw passionate speeches on both sides – was a lot broader than the discussion county officials have been having in recent weeks – ever since the board began exploring changes to the county’s gun ordinances. 

Some county property owners who are disturbed by constant gun use on adjoining property suggested new gun laws to limit the noise from gun use, restrict hours where shooting could be done and make other moves that go further than the county had suggested.

Commissioner Alan Perdue, who is the former emergency services director for Guilford County, said that a great number of people had guns and had bought guns in the past year and a half and he added that those people should have a great deal of familiarity with that weapon if they’re going to have to use it in a high-pressure situation with lives at stake.  Perdue said that meant that the gun owners needed a good deal of practice and therefore, he said, he was reluctant to limit the opportunities to practice.

Commissioner Justin Conrad stated at the meeting that this process of attempting to change the gun ordinances has been nothing short of crazy from the beginning.  Conrad pointed out that county legal staff already has changes drawn up, when, instead, Conrad said, the board should have heard first from the citizens and then drafted any potential new rules for consideration by the board. 

At the August 5 meeting, Conrad strongly maintained a position he’s made clear in the past: that state law already provides for gun safety, so the solution, if one is needed, is enforcing existing laws rather than the county writing up a set of new ones.