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Gun rights protesters crowd Tuesday's Lake County council meeting

Gun rights protesters crowd Tuesday's Lake County Council meeting.

The right to bear arms doesn’t include the right to fire guns in a manner that jeopardizes the safety of others.

Nor is the Second Amendment a license for gun owners to wantonly pop off rounds near the property lines of neighbors who don't appreciate the associated noise or danger.

We're glad an overflow crowd of 150 people, many of them disgruntled gun owners, didn't deter the Lake County Council from doing the right thing regarding an amended rural firearms ordinance.

The Lake County Council acted appropriately Tuesday, widening prohibitions on gunfire in residential south Lake County.

The council voted 5-2 to amend a rural firearms discharge ordinance, increasing from 300 feet to 700 feet the safe zones for firing guns in relation to neighboring property lines of unincorporated areas.

It was a compromise to a previous proposal of 1,000-foot safety zones, and it allows neighbors to work together for shorter safety distances if all affected property owners agree.

Council members Christian Jorgensen, R-St. John; Charlie Brown, D-Gary; Dan Dernulc, R-Highland; Christine Cid, D-East Chicago, and Elsie Franklin, D-Gary, were right to adopt the ordinance.

Many of our Region's rural areas are transforming into a mixture of open farmland and residential subdivisions.

Some of Indiana's fastest-growing residential areas can be found in what recently were rural fields.

That growth is key to increasing Northwest Indiana's tax base and creating new housing stock to attract and retain residents.

Trigger-happy neighbors with guns, who once treated these areas of the county like Wild West shooting galleries, should no longer be tolerated.

Some of the people who gathered to protest Tuesday's vote at the Lake County Government Center in Crown Point booed during the vote.

"They passed it. We got screwed," one man shouted.

"South county is a different culture. People moved there for hunting and enjoying the outdoors. To restrict the people there already to enjoy that culture is a travesty, in my opinion," another man at the meeting complained.

He's right on one point. The culture is changing in south county, though not to the remonstrating man's description.

Suburban-style subdivisions are now home to a growing number of families, many of them with children.

Those families deserve safe zones free from gunfire.

A compromise in this ordinance also means the safe zones won't apply to hunters during hunting season. So hunting rights aren't jeopardized.

The ordinance rightly takes aim at nuisance and irresponsible gun use.

"It's a neighbor issue in an increasingly populated area," Councilman Jorgensen observed. "We had complaints about people not being good neighbors."

Some of the instances of unneighborly rural gun use resulted in bullets passing through walls and windows of rural residences.

A line had to be drawn, and the County Council did its duty.

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Members of The Times Editorial Board are Publisher Christopher T. White, Editor Marc Chase, Deputy Editor Kerry Erickson, Assistant Local News Editor Crista Zivanovic and Regional News Editor Sharon Ross.