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Taking a Shot

Henrico to review firearms ordinance

By Tom Lappas

Should the penalty for using a firearm illegally in Henrico County be more severe than a maximum fine of $250? Should it be illegal to fire a gun on any piece of land smaller than an acre?

Some members of the county's Board of Supervisors think so, and they've asked the Henrico's county attorney to study the county's existing firearms ordinance and deliver a briefing during their Aug. 9 work session.

At that meeting, supervisors also are expected to consider revised plans for a new ordinance outlawing the use of bows and arrows in most areas.

Both matters stem from a complaint made last October by a resident of the Kingston subdivision in western Henrico, who contacted county officials after learning that his neighbor was taking target practice with a high-powered crossbow. The man worried that his young daughter, or other residents, might be harmed by a stray arrow.

Henrico officials reviewed the county code and learned that they did not have legal authority to prohibit such usage, so they asked the General Assembly to grant them permission to do so. Del. Jack Reid of Henrico helped pass that legislation during this year's session, and the law took effect July 1.

County Attorney Joe Rapisarda proposed a bow-and-arrow ordinance to the Board July 12 that would establish illegal use of the equipment as a Class 4 Misdemeanor, which carries a maximum fine of $250. The same maximum penalty applies to firearms violations.

Rapisarda's original proposal would have prohibited the use of bows and arrows on all land zoned for commercial or industrial usage and on residential and agricultural land of less than three acres.

But after reviewing the proposal, several supervisors and Rapisarda agreed that it might be unwise to make the bow-and-arrow ordinance more restrictive than the firearms ordinance. (Though firearms may not be used on commercial, residential or industrial land in Henrico, they may be used on agricultural land of any size; some agricultural lots in Henrico are smaller than one acre.)

"I'm not sure that you'd want this penalty [for bows and arrows] to be any higher than the one for firearms," Rapisarda said.

Tuckahoe District Supervisor Pat O'Bannon suggested that the maximum penalties for both weapons offenses should be higher.

Rapisarda told the Citizen this week that he intends to review state code to determine if the county has the authority to increase the penalties associated with its firearms ordinance. He will present his findings during the Board's Aug. 9 meeting, at which time he also will propose an updated bow-and-arrow ordinance that would mirror the existing firearms law.

Per General Assembly stipulations, the bow-and-arrow ordinance would allow an exception for the killing of deer on agricultural land of at least two acres, in cases where deer were damaging crops or other property and in other cases specifically approved by the Department of Game and Inland Fisheries.

Supervisors are expected to discuss the new bow-and-arrow proposal, and the existing firearms ordinance, at their Aug. 9 session. A vote to adopt a bow-and-arrow ordinance could come during the Board's public meeting later that night.

http://www.richmond.com/news/output.aspx?Article_ID=3817624&Vertical_ID=127&tier=1&position=4

*FW Note:

An excellent example of nosy and frightened neighbors inducing government to impose criminal penalties on honest citizens for using their private property on their private property.

Why couldn't they simply discuss their concerns with their neighbor to arrive at some mutually satifying arrangement addressing whatever the safety issues might be?

Note the fervor to hike the penalty for use or practice of ANY arm...

:roll:
 

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FWiedner said:
Taking a Shot

*FW Note:

An excellent example of nosy and frightened neighbors inducing government to impose criminal penalties on honest citizens for using their private property on their private property.

Why couldn't they simply discuss their concerns with their neighbor to arrive at some mutually satifying arrangement addressing whatever the safety issues might be?

Note the fervor to hike the penalty for use or practice of ANY arm...

:roll:
I certainly agree with this sentiment.

I wonder if it wasn't a case of 2 inflexible neighbors though. I'm sure the frightened one may have been over-reacting (unless the target shooting guy wasn't using a safe backstop).

There is an equal chance that when the frightened neighbor told the target shooter of his concerns, the TS said to take a hike.

Or ithere is an equal chance that the frightened neighbor started with a threat, and was met with a beligerent response.



....



but you're right... I'll bet in most cases, it's more a matter of determining an equitable, non-gov't, solution.
 

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This is another rural vs. urban conflict.
Henrico Co. which surrounds the city of Richmond, is a mix of both. Some of it is open farmland and a lot of it is densely populated (and high crime).
One funny thing is that, in this part of the state which is relatively flat and developed, Henrico is one of the few counties that still allows rifle hunting.
 
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