Walkersville, MD, Protection or Infringement

Is protection of Constitutional rights at stake or is this an example of political agenda promotion?  Is it about citizens having rights or having someone dictate those rights because that someone is not the government?

Disclaimer:  I have never been a resident and have only driven through Walkersville, MD.  My information is based upon the story I viewed earlier tonight on WJLA TV and some quick searches on the Internet to read the wordings of the actual codes.  Personally, I feel like the residents of Walkersville who have a far better understanding and are the individuals impacted directly are the people who will have the best information to make the best decisions for themselves.

Some background:

Our location is Walkersville, MD, a community with a population of approximately 5500 residents within a 4.36 square mile area. It really doesn’t matter in this commentary, but area data breaks the population down in the following manner:   88.0% White, 5.2% African American, 0.3% Native American, 2.4% Asian, 1.5% from other races, and 2.6% from two or more races. Hispanic or Latino of any race were 4.1% of the population.  For those interested in some other local ordinances which would interest a boy from Louisiana some examples include:  A) It is unlawful to allow grass, brush, or weeds to grow to a height of 8″ (eight inches) or higher on any part of your property.  B)  Walkersville has a permanent, year-round water ban that prohibits lawn watering between the hours of 9:00am and 6:00pm.  Unless I plan to cut hay, I’m not a fan of tall grass near my house, and why would anyone let water evaporate in the heat and burn their plants and grass by watering in direct sunlight.  Simply, my quick review of area ordinances finds nothing unreasonable to this Louisianaboy.

If the people are friendly, like to talk about any and everything, look out and care for their neighbors, and can give and take in “friendly” exchanges before, during, and after a Saints game against Redskins, Ravens, or any team someone there might support for that matter, I and the residents of a “city” this size would get along great.  I would need to ask for snow and ice advice, but in exchange I could sharpen lawnmower blades, tune those engines, and most likely keep those snow blower machines operating after I had a chance to actually look at one.  I’m guessing they are like a combination hand tiller and discharge push mower except that it chews and tosses snow instead of soil and grass.

The controversy: 

Anyway, back in 1975 when the community had a population of approximately 1700 residents this ordinance went into effect with the town code.  Here is the entire code, but I’ve cut and pasted the controversial aspects below.

§ 33-1. Hunting of Game.

A. It shall be unlawful for any person to hunt for, catch, take, wound or kill game of any kind through the use of a pistol, revolver, bow and arrow, slingshot, shotgun, gun or any firearm or weapon from which a shot or other object is discharged within the Town of Walkersville or on town-owned property outside of town limits.

B. The term “game,” as used in this chapter, shall mean and include all wild birds and wild animals, whether protected or unprotected under the game laws of the state, found in a wild state.

§ 33-2. Discharge of Firearm or Weapon; Carrying of Loaded Weapon.

A. It shall be unlawful to discharge a rifle, air rifle or air gun of any kind and description which impels with force a pellet of any kind or to discharge a bow and arrow, slingshot, shotgun, gun or any firearm or weapon from which a shot or other object is discharged within the Town of Walkersville or on town-owned property outside of town limits.

B. It shall be unlawful to carry, within the boundaries of the Town of Walkersville or on town-owned property outside of town limits, a gun loaded with shell or cartridge. [Added 4-14-82].

§ 33-3. Exemptions.

The provisions of this chapter shall not apply to:

A. Properly authorized law enforcement officers or town employees acting in their line of duty or in training. [Ordinance 98-15, adopted 9-9-98] §33 WALKERSVILLE CODE §33 -3302-

B. The members of duly organized gun, rifle or archery clubs, or their bona fide guests, or of military organizations of the United States or Maryland government, upon the ranges of such clubs or organizations, under the control and supervision of the duly constituted officers of such clubs and organizations. [Amended 9-12-01 by Ord. 2001-07]

C. The patrons of commercial ranges.

D. Those persons in possession of permits issued by the town for hunting on town-owned property outside of town limits.

E. Agriculturally zoned land. [Added 3-24-79].

F. The use of blank firing weapons and devices for the purposes of reenactment activities, military funeral details, or other activities, which have been authorized by the Burgess and Commissioners of the Town of Walkersville. [Added 9-12-01 by Ord. 2001-07]

G. The carrying of weapons under the provisions of the State of Maryland Handgun Permit. [Added 9-12-01 by Ord. 2001-07]

H. Authorized State of Maryland Hunter Safety, Firearms Safety, or Bow Safety courses or instruction as sponsored by the Department of Natural Resources. [Added 9-12-01 by Ord. 2001-07]

§ 33-4. Seizure of Weapons Used in Violation.

Authorized enforcing agents are hereby authorized to seize and retain any rifle, air rifle or air gun of any description, or ammunition or pellets for the same, or any bow and arrows, slingshots, shotguns, guns or any firearm or weapon from which a shot or other object is discharged which shall be used, discharged or possessed within the town or on town-owned property outside of town limits in violation of this chapter.

§ 33-5. Intent and Purpose.

It is the intent and purpose of this chapter that the killing of game or vermin of any kind through the use of a rifle, air rifle, air fun or bow and arrow, slingshot, shotgun, gun or any firearm or weapon from which a shot or other object is discharged shall be unlawful.

§ 33-6. Violations and Penalties.

Any person violating any of the provisions of this chapter shall, upon conviction, be guilty of a misdemeanor and shall be punished as provided in the Charter of the Town of Walkersville.

The complaint:

According to a group just slightly beyond over yonder, and I mean approximately 2700 miles away so way, way over yonder in Bellevue, Washington, the above portions of the Walkersville code violate not only the Second Amendment but portions of Maryland State Code.  The Maryland codes are linked below.

http://law.justia.com/codes/maryland/2005/gcr/4-209.html

http://www.lawserver.com/law/state/maryland/md-laws/maryland_laws_public_safety_5-133

Some thoughts:

Seriously, Walkersville, MD, is violating the Second Amendment rights of its residents?  While no lawsuit has been filed as of yet, Walkersville has to use local taxpayer money and its local elected officials are having to forgo other responsibilities because a group located in Washington state is saying they disagree with this community’s code?  Maybe a local resident did complain to someone in Washington state.  That I do not know, but given that more people in Walkersville have probably traveled the 2 hours to Washington, DC, than the 40+ hours to Washington State, I think they could find more individuals and groups more capable of taking up their cause if only from a logistical standpoint.

Infringement is one issue, and given the partisan rhetoric on both sides someone who reads these codes of Walkersville and of the state of Maryland probably has reached their conclusion before beginning.  For those not recipients of special interest monies or dominated by special interest monies, we would probably say let the residents of Walkersville determine the policy that meets their interests.  They are the people living there, and they are the ones who will be the most impacted.  If a local resident feels that their individual rights have been infringed or denied, they may and can take action.  The other residents may and can respond.

Why though is it unacceptable for the government or anyone else to dictate what we as American citizens can or cannot do when it pertains to us, but it is acceptable for us as an outside group or individuals to impose our rules on someone else?  Freedom only exists with some rules and regulations.  We can’t decide, however, to cherry pick and accept only some rules and regulations for ourselves while expecting others to follow different sets.  Finding the balance and accepting what is appropriate for me and is also appropriate when applied for you is the hard part.  This blaming under the premise of some idea is not only meaningless but despicable because it erodes the idea no matter how noble it may be.

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