Wake County Approves Updates to Decades-Old Outdoor Shooting Rules for Unincorporated Areas

Given the tremendous population growth and urbanization in Wake County over the past 20 years, Wake County leaders voted tonight to improve safeguards for the public by updating the firearms ordinance. Changes include an increase in how far someone must be from another home when firing a gun, the requirement of a backstop to help block bullets and newly established hours for outdoor shooting.

“For the safety of all our residents in Wake County, we needed to make these improvements,” said Sig Hutchinson, chair of the Wake County Board of Commissioners. “We are thankful for the thoughtful input from gun owners and others, including the Wake County Sheriff’s Office whose deputies will enforce this ordinance. Our community has grown so much since this ordinance was last updated in 2001, and these changes better reflect that growth.”

The ordinance only applies in unincorporated areas of Wake County, meaning outside of any city or town limits where firearms activity, like target practice, is allowed. The areas inside the boundaries of the 12 municipalities within the county already prohibit shooting at any time of the day or night. Hunting animals or birds would also not be affected by changes to this county ordinance, as they are regulated by state and federal law.

The changes the board approved for the Wake County Code of Ordinances Chapter 130 Firearms are:

  1. DISTANCE: Increase the minimum distance from a home, public building or livestock in which a person may discharge a firearm from 100 yards to 300 yards.
  2. BACKSTOP: Require a backstop that meets industry standards or at least meets the height and width standards specified in the ordinance.
  3. RESTRICTED HOURS: Prohibit the discharge of a firearm from 10 p.m. until 7 a.m.
  4. FINE: Increase the maximum fine for violation from $50 to the statutory limit of $500.

There is a special exception for the distance requirement. Residents will be able to discharge a firearm within 300 yards of someone else’s home IF the person first gets written permission from the owner or the current resident. The permission form can be downloaded from the WakeGov.com website and must be signed and dated. The permission is valid for one year, and anyone shooting must have the form with them when firing should law enforcement need to confirm.

Anyone unsure of their distance from neighboring residences or buildings may contact the Wake County Planning Division at 919-856-6678.

Following concerns from the community, discussion on this issue began in earnest in August at the county’s
Public Safety Committee meeting. Numerous public meetings were held on the issue, with staff sharing comparisons of similar outdoor shooting ordinance regulations in other North Carolina counties for reference.

The amendments to the Firearms Ordinance adopted tonight will go into effect on Dec. 9, 2022.

Press Release