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County takes aim at proposed gun ordinance

Published: Wednesday, Oct. 10, 2012 4:33 p.m. CDT • Updated: Thursday, Oct. 11, 2012 6:40 p.m. CDT

PRINCETON — The Bureau County Board is considering a nuisance ordinance which would restrict the firing of guns within 300 yards of residences in unincorporated subdivisions.

At Tuesday’s meeting, Law Committee Chairman Bob McCook presented the proposal, which had been reviewed by both the law and zoning committees prior to Tuesday’s meeting.

Board member Mark Pierson of rural Princeton brought the issue before the board after he had been contacted by a constituent complaining that a neighbor had been shooting a gun in their subdivision. The constituent had also contacted the police, but the police apparently couldn’t do anything about the disturbance, Pierson said.

In developing the proposed ordinance, Pierson said he researched similar ordinances in other communities and counties. The recommended 300-yard limit comes from the Illinois Department of Natural Resources’ hunting ordinance, Pierson said.

“It’s basically the same ordinance as a hunting ordinance, only it applies to just shooting,” Pierson said. “There are exceptions for shooting or killing any dangerous and destructive animal or reptile necessary to protect life and property.”

In discussing the proposal, board member Robert Albrecht questioned the need for an ordinance if this was a one time incident.

However, in her opinion, this type of thing could happen more often, as more and more unincorporated subdivisions are developed around the county, board member Loretta Volker said.

According to board member Mike Kohr, there are currently about 27 unincorporated areas in Bureau County. His recommendation was to get input from the people who would be impacted by the proposed ordinance. Maybe that’s why people moved to their unincorporated areas, to not have so many restrictions placed upon them, he said.

“Are we taking away their rights?” Kohr asked.

Board member Joe Bassetti questioned whether the language of the proposed ordinance was specific enough, specifically in relationship to alcohol consumption. The wording was too vague, he said.

Steve Sondgeroth, also a board member, agreed, saying the county board needed to be crystal clear on what the ordinance should be and say.

When asked for his insight, Bureau County State’s Attorney Patrick Herrmann recommended board members talk to their constituents. If the board thinks this ordinance needs to be accomplished, then the first step would be to talk to their constituents, he said.

After further discussion, McCook asked Herrmann to further review the proposed ordinance and asked county board members to talk with their constituents to get their input concerning the ordinance.

Comment on this story at www.bcrnews.com.

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