Gunfire Sparks Council To Expand Urban Area

Vote increases area where residents are prohibited from firing guns

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Expanded urban boundary

Montgomery County Council

The Montgomery County Council has expanded the area in Montgomery County where firing guns is prohibited, with a few exceptions.

The newly defined urban area includes nine residential areas near Kruhm Road in Burtonsville.

The urban area extends from the county’s borders with the District of Columbia and Prince George’s County to areas as far north as Brink Road in Laytonsville and extends as far west as Little Seneca Creek.

According to the county code, firing guns in the county’s urban area is prohibited, with the exceptions of firing at a shooting range approved by the county’s firearms safety committee. Guns can be shot in a private basement, for self-defense, for hunting in designed areas and for ceremonial purposes with blank ammunition, such as at military funerals.

The county’s urban boundary laws do not conflict with the Second Amendment because a 2008 Supreme Court ruling in District of Columbia vs. Heller allows local governments to restrict firearm use, according to a memo prepared for the County Council.

“There is an ancient but still relevant common law doctrine; You may, “use your own property so as not to injure that of your neighbors”. This doctrine has applicability to the discharge of firearms,” the memo stated.

The urban boundary had not been updated in more than 20 years, according to a bill sponsored by former Council President Hans Riemer at the request of former County Executive Ike Leggett.

The bill, which received unanimous approval during Tuesday’s County Council meeting, came in response to the sound of gunshots near a Kruhm Road address 21 times in 2018. According to Jeff Zyontz, a legislative analyst, Montgomery County police filed three reports following a number of safety concerns raised by neighbors.

“During those investigations, it was determined that the resident … resides outside the urban area, possessed several licenses issued by the State of Maryland that allow him, with certain restrictions to shoot firearms on his property. The license holder was not violating any County or State law,” Zyontz wrote in the memo.

The resident was not identified in the memo and could not be reached Wednesday.

Dan Schere can be reached at Daniel.schere@bethesdamagazine.com

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