We Can’t Even Shoot On Our Own Property?
Jerry Conrady and his wife have been fighting to be able to continue to safely shoot on their own rural property. This is their story in their own words, why it should matter to you, and how you can help.
Lincoln County is attacking Oregon residents’ rights to shoot on private property. If Lincoln County wins the repercussions for shooters in the State of Oregon will be staggering. Every county will be able to use the following cases as precedent to require anyone on private property to obtain a condition use permit before discharging a firearm. Your support is needed.
Jerry Conrady and his wife own 120 acres in rural Lincoln County. Mr. Conrady is a State certified teacher, has a degree in Gunsmithing from Lassen College and is an Eagle Scout. Mr. Conrady’s wife is an estate paralegal and writer. Neither have any form of criminal record. Mr Conrady gives out free gun locks at Portland gun shows.
Currently the Oregon Revised Statute allows for landowners and their guests to discharge firearms outdoors on private property without any permits. The Conradys and their guests have been doing so since they purchased the property in 2002 with no complaints or negative comments from anyone. In 2008 Mr. Conrady proposed building an indoor range in the center of his property. A small group of their neighbors, backed by someone with a good deal of money is now attempting to sue the Conrady’s into poverty and submission.
There are currently two cases pending:
Case number 111143 in which, after the County threatened to sue them if they didn’t stop shooting on their property the Conrady’s filed a suit asking a Judge to read and interpret the law. Instead of ruling on the law in question, the Judge determined that the County has a right to regulate shooting ranges. The County has taken that to mean that anywhere an individual discharges a firearm is then considered a range and thus they have the right to regulate the discharge of firearms on private property and that anyone who wishes to do so must apply for a conditional use permit. This case is currently in the Appeals Court.
Case number 112006 in which 5 of the Conrady’s neighbors are suing them for an “abatement of a nuisance”. Even though the Oregon Revised Statute says that noise from firearms cannot be regulated and does not fall under the nuisance statutes, the same Judge is allowing the case to go through and Lincoln County has jumped on board with the Plaintiffs. The remedy they’re seeking? First they want warrantless search and seizure. They want to be able to enter the Conrady’s property at any time for any reason and arrest anyone suspected of shooting, whether a firearm is present or not. Keep in mind that the Conradys are law abiding citizens who do not currently have nor have ever had a criminal record. They hold concealed weapons permits in multiple states and Mr. Conrady holds an FFL. If they were criminals they would never have passed the checks that allow them these privileges. The Plaintiffs also want the house that the Conrady’s are building on their property with approved permits removed, as well as their well and septic and anything else the County deems an improvement related to a shooting range. There are no improvements as no range was ever built as the County has been told multiple times.
This case will be heard November 6th.
The Conradys don’t shoot 24 hours a day 7 days a week. They try to be respectful of their neighbors including voluntarily reducing their shooting hours. In addition, they are not the only people in the area who shoot. Several neighbors on Mr. Conrady’s property line discharge firearms on their property whenever they want, yet is it only the Conrady’s who are being sued.
Oregon Revised Statutes 166.170, 171 and 176 state that NO conditional use permit is necessary for a landowner and guests to discharge firearms on private property. In fact, Counties cannot restrict the discharge of firearms on private property in rural unincorperated areas. Lincoln County is attempting to get around this statute by claiming the Conrady’s were running a shooting range and that anywhere a firearm in discharged is a shooting range, thus they have the right to regulate all shooting. They have yet to define the difference between a commercial shooting range, private shooting range on private property or a landowner and guests discharging firearms on private property. The Conradys never ran a range. They created a non-profit and did what was necessary to prepare to apply for a conditional use permit to build a range. They sent letters and emails and left phone messages for the County asking for guidance which never came. Mr. Conrady had to finally send a letter to the County Commissioners before the county attorney finally responded with a contradictory and confusing letter that baffled every attorney the Conrady’s spoke with and left them wide open to litigation.
The Conradys have been fighting this battle for 4 years now and it’s taken a dramatic personal and financial strain on them. They are no longer fighting for just their rights but the rights of every shooter in the State of Oregon. If they lose, anyone who wants to set up a target or shoot at a can will have to have permission to do so first. It’s once again time to show that shooters will not be bullied.
If you’re interested in supporting the Conradys and your rights call the Lincoln County Commissioners and voice your opinion at 541-265-4100 or write or email them. Anyone who would like to assist with their defense fund may do so as follows:
MAKE CHECKS TO: GERALD CONRADY TRUST ACCOUNT
Gerald Conrady Trust
Care of Attorney Russell L. Baldwin
P.O. Box 1242
Lincoln City, OR 97367