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Perquimans resident: Firing distance unsafe

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By Peter Williams
The Perquimans Weekly

Monday, March 25, 2019

HERTFORD — A New Hope man is asking Perquimans commissioners to require hunters to be farther from public roads and occupied structures when they fire their weapons.

Addressing commissioners earlier this month, Steven Samonsky said he and his wife moved into their home in Perquimans in late 2016. When they went off one weekend, a duck blind had been erected near their home when they returned, he said.

“I went out with my rods and my reels to go fishing, and there are two guys with 12-gauge shotguns 400 feet away,” he said.

Samonsky said he talked with local law enforcement and wildlife officials and they said what the duck hunters had done was perfectly legal. So he decided to take his concerns to county commissioners.

“The shot people use today will really travel,” he said. “It’s totally unsafe and it’s ridiculous to have a 400-foot limit,” he said. “You might bag a homeowner.”

Samonsky, 69, said he has nothing against hunting.

“I first went hunting when I was 13 or 14 years old,” he said. “I am not saying don’t go somewhere to shoot; just make sure you have” plenty of distance from public roads and occupied structures before firing. 

Samonsky proposed the county require hunters to be 2,100 feet or 110 percent of the “carry distance” from any public or private school, church, county office, hospital, residential subdivision or residence, private business, public or county road, or state highway.

Samonsky, who served in the Air Force and worked in the telecommunication industry before retiring, believes Perquimans needs to update its hunting ordinances for the times. When current ordinances were written, he said, the county was probably more rural and there weren’t as many homes and subdivisions as they are now.

He also believes hunters don’t take as many safety precautions as they once did.   

“I grew up hunting, but some people haven’t,” he said. “They go and get the most powerful rifle they can possibly get and people who are new at hunting, their mind turns off that (mental) safety.”

He cited a Pasquotank County incident in which an out-of-state hunter shot at a deer, missed and hit a woman riding in a pickup on a public highway. The woman survived but was seriously injured. The hunter was standing on the ground, not in a tree stand where he should have been if using a rifle.

“Laws need to consider the most inexperienced person,” Samonsky said.

He noted that Perquimans has enacted shooting and firearms ordinances in the past. He cited three regulating firearms use near Holiday Island, Albemarle Plantation and Snug Harbor. All were adopted between 1989 and 2012 and feature nearly identical language.

Each ordinance prohibits shooting any stone, rock, shot or other hard substance beyond the limits of one’s own property. They also all ban the firing of any gun within those subdivisions.

Samonsky argued that if Perquimans County refuses to take action on his request, and there is an accident, the county would be held liable.

Commissioners listened to Samonsky’s request but took no action. For his request to receive consideration, at least one commissioner would have to ask that it be placed on the agenda of a future meeting. 

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