The York Township Board of Trustees introduced and gave the initial reading of a new ordinance at their monthly meeting in August. The ordinance is to prohibit the discharge of firearms in the township except in specified circumstances.
“(The ordinance is the) only way to give us any teeth to compel an immediate ceasing of the activity when it gets to the point of a nuisance or dangerous activity to the surrounding residents. It’s commonly referred to as a police power ordinance, which is what we took the first steps to last night,” said Township Supervisor Joseph Zurawski.
The purposed ordinance states that it shall be unlawful for any person to discharge a firearm on public or private property in York Township. There are five exceptions listed in the ordinance on where or when residents will be able to use their firearms:
- In the protection of life
- Law enforcement officers in the performance of duty
- Legal hunting activities
- Target practice at a residence on land greater than five acres zoned A-1, A-2 or Conservation Preservation (CP) by the owner, his or her immediate family and not more than six guests between 10 a.m. and sunset.
- At a recognized and permitted sportsman’s club or shooting range
The ordinance was created in response to an incident in May where a York Township resident created a berm and had a large number of people over for the purpose of firing a wide range of firearms, including automatic and semi-automatic weapons. The gathering caused a disturbance in which the police were called, but, according to Zurawski, the process of obtaining compliance can take a long time.
“After issuing a ticket, it could be two or three months before it gets in front of the judge, who can issue a restraining order. They can refuse to comply and a couple of months later, we’re back in front of a judge. It can take up to nine months or a year before a judge says ‘Knock it off or I’ll find you in contempt and throw you in jail,’” said Zurawski.
During the August meeting of the Township Board of Trustees, the lone dissent was brought forward by Jill Hargrove. She said she is not completely opposed to the ordinance, but said she feels that the language pertaining to guests in the exceptions is not clear enough.
“I think it’s vague and reactionary. We had an incident and I don’t believe in legislating to an incident. If this were a continuing problem, then I think this is totally appropriate,” said Hargrove.
The ordinance is available to view at the township hall during normal business hours. The second reading and formal adoption of the ordinance is planned for the next Board of Trustees meeting on September 13 at 7:30 p.m. The meeting is open to the public.