Ordinance banning guns on Sutter levees starts in April
Hunters only have about another month to fire guns from the top of Sutter County levees, with an ordinance taking effect by April 1 to bar such actions.
Brought originally at the suggestion of Levee District 1, the ordinance will allow gun users to fire them from the slope of a levee, and allow firing from the top if you’re using a bow and arrow or air rifle.
“We are not taking any rights away,” Sutter County Board of Supervisors Chairman Larry Munger said Tuesday night, before the board voted 4-1 to adopt the ordinance, with James Gallagher in opposition. “All your hunting is down at the bottom of the levee.”
The ordinance, which actually amends an existing county ordinance on gun use and levees, was designed to improve safety for LD1 employees working near levees.
Though first proposed a year ago, the ordinance underwent revisions when hunters and gun rights advocates showed up in numbers to encourage supervisors to drop, or at least more carefully write, such legislation.
Some, but not all of those folks were there again Tuesday, many saying it was unnecessary to pass such an ordinance when two different portions of state law cover something similar.
County Administrator Stephanie Larsen told supervisors those laws weren’t as specific as the county ordinance would be; in one case, the state law referred to firing a gun on roads, which the county doesn’t necessarily define as being the same as the top of a levee, she said.
But opponents of the ordinance, some of them members of the tea party political movement, said the greater issue was the ordinance’s violation of the Second Amendment of the U.S. Constitution.
“My concern is this ordinance is just another whack at our Second Amendment rights without any analysis or justification,” said Larry Virga, a Yuba City residents and coordinator for the Sutter Buttes Tea Party Patriots.
Virga said he doubted the board had any documented instances of deaths, injuries or damage caused by guns being fired from the top of a levee.
But most supervisors said they didn’t see the ordinance as a gun rights violation, with many saying they enjoyed hunting and owned guns themselves.
And Supervisor Stan Cleveland pointed out the ordinance actually gave hunters more rights than they had previously.
“I’m a little dismayed people didn’t even listen to the presentation,” he said.
CONTACT Ben van der Meer at firstname.lastname@example.org or 749-4786. Find him on Facebook at /ADbvandermeer or on Twitter at @ADbvandermeer.