Friday, December 13, 2013

AZ:No Shooting Unless Zoned for it? Rancher Prevails Against Zoning Department

Shooting in the Arizona Desert has a long history

An interesting case from Arizona, where a rancher was dragged into court on the unfounded pretext that he was illegally building a shooting range on his large acreage near Prescott. From the Daily Courier:
PRESCOTT - In what has become an issue pitting gun rights against land use codes, a Williamson Valley landowner had his Second Amendment rights upheld in a Tuesday hearing in Prescott.

Brad DeSaye, owner of Headhunter Ranch LLC, said he never intended to build gun ranges on his properety. (sic)

"The wild rumors that brought us to this point hopefully were dispelled a little bit," DeSaye said. "I feel vindicated that they dismissed it, but at the same time I feel frustrated and I expect the county to come back at me in a different way. This is a private property right; a Second Amendment issue."
DeSaye and his attorney must have been persuasive, because the the County ruled in his favor:
After more than three hours of testimony on Tuesday, Yavapai County Hearing Officer Peter Van Harin ruled in DeSaye's favor, allowing him to shoot firearms on his property, overriding the objections of his neighbors and Yavapai County land use officials.
The ruling was in his favor, because the property is zoned agricultural, which is excepted from most of the intricate, detailed, incredibly controlling and confining zoning laws.   If Yavapai County has the same base code as Yuma, County (which I am familiar with), then for most areas, the code says, anything that is not allowed in the code, is forbidden.   This is directly in conflict with the basic American philosophy of the law, which is "Anything that is not forbidden, is allowed".   That difference was noted by one of the commenters later:

A quote from a Yavapai County bureaucrat who testified at the hearing:—

Lynn Chaplin

If a County Ordinance doesn’t permit the activity, the activity is disallowed. No shooting allowed under Ordinance 400, so “no shooting as a matter of right” Simply stated, “you are not allowed to shoot cans on your property.”

This is absurd. If it's not expressly allowed it's prohibited??
Yet, that is precisely how most zoning codes work.  Some further information from the comments tells us much more about the situation.   This is not a 1.25 acre "horse ranch" in the suburbs:

I was at the hearing. I went there thinking it Desaye was trying to pull a fast one. After hearing the evidence there was no other possible outcome. Not only did he spend about a million dollars for the ranch, he has spent several hundered thousand since then on drilling wells, water pumps, ponds to irrigate his property. He has a several generation family history in flood irrigation and clearly (after all the rumors were squelched) is interested in having a self sustaining ranch. He also likes to shoot. None if this is against the law. The country wrote the rules, he has abided by them. Why is he guilty of anything? Just becuase the nieghbors dont like it doesnt mean it is illegal. P.S. After driving to the property I discovered this "neighborhood" is in the middle of nowhere, its pretty flat and you can see forever. Gues what. No houses can be seen in any direction. Good Greif people. I thought there was something sinister going on but when I look at it I cant belive anyone has the nerve to cry victim out there. Where are all these neighbors living- its not close- thats for sure. The neighbors whining the loudest in the hearing were several miles from Desays ranch. Bullets whizzing over your head? Yeah right. Not possible.
Some good may come of this case.  One commenter promises:
To say that the 2nd Am does not protect shooting is like saying that the first amendment does not protect typing. Its' an absurd position to take.


This case a spurred a movement to pass statewide legislation to prevent counties from trying this nonsense again. I predict it will pass.

I will be watching the Arizona Citizens Defense League (AZCDL) to see if and when a bill is put forward.

©2013 by Dean Weingarten: Permission to share is granted when this notice is included.
Link to Gun Watch

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