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Expanded shooting hours vote fails in Nevada County

John Orona
Staff Writer

A firearm ordinance that would have amended Nevada County’s codes to allow expanded shooting hours has failed to get the four-fifths approval needed for passage by the Board of Supervisors.

The amendments were brought forward last week by District 2 Supervisor Ed Scofield, a move he said was to bring the code in alignment with the county’s original intent: to reduce nuisance and safety hazards in residential neighborhoods while not impacting existing commercial shooting ranges.

In 2018, the Board of Supervisors passed an ordinance restricting where, when, and for how long residents could discharge firearms in the county.

The current ordinance prohibits shooting in zones R1, R2, R3 and Residential Agricultural-zoned parcels with fewer than 5 acres; restricts shooting to between 9 a.m. and 5 p.m.; and prohibits shooting for more than two hours without at least a two-hour break, among other changes.

However, since its passage, some residents complained that the ordinance does not take into account rural residents who shoot on their private land that pose no nuisance threats, and that the time regulations don’t account for seasonal daylight changes.

The proposed amendments would have expanded shooting hours to begin from 30 minutes after sunrise until 30 minutes before sunset, bringing the county closer in line with state policy, but ensuring shooting is allowed only during daylight. State codes allow for shooting from 30 minutes before sunrise to 30 minutes after sunset, according to county staff reports.

It also would have grandfathered commercial shooting ranges already subject to yearly review and approval from fire agencies into an exception allowing them to shoot during Red Flag warning days, a move endorsed in a letter to the board by the county fire marshal.

VOTE

The changes failed after Chairwoman Heidi Hall and District 5 Supervisor Richard Anderson voted against the amendments, which required four affirmative votes to pass. During the meeting Hall expressed support for expanding the hours, but not to the extent of the proposed motion.

“Unfortunately, it became rather confusing when we try to change things from the dais,” Scofield said in an email. “I will be coming back with a more definite reading, but not sure of how it might read.”

According to Scofield, the ordinance could come back in August or September and would not be brought back as a repeal, a move several public commenters recommended but was not supported by the board.

Michael Caston, president of the Nevada County Sportsman Club, wrote to the board last November asking them to move the time up an hour to 6 p.m., giving people just getting off work more time for the recreation and allowing them to maintain their existing business hours.

Caston said he would like to see the ordinance come back with his November suggestions, calling the expanded hours a step too far.

“It’s not speaking to shooting range issues, those are hunting hours. I hope this will come back to the board with its original intention.” Caston said. “The ordinance really paints with a broad brush, and in my opinion, was rushed through at the time.”

While the one-hour change may not seem like much of a difference, Caston said with recent hardships like last year’s PG&E public safety power shut-offs, “it could be the difference that keeps that lights on.”

To contact Staff Writer John Orona, email jorona@theunion.com or call 530-477-4229.


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