Will Watanabe finds himself in the crosshairs once again. He shoots, legally, in a homemade range in his back yard. This time, though, he is the target in an Island County Commission meeting room.
Watanabe fires off his guns less than 200 feet from the home of his neighbor, Jack Lyons. Lyons is a veteran and an NRA member, but shooting in a residential neighborhood triggered him to ask County Commissioners to designate certain communities "no shooting zones."
“I believe the 2nd amendment gives us the right to bear arms, but not to shoot anywhere we want,” Lyons told KING 5. “This is just too dangerous.”
Scores of homes in Lyons’s neighborhood could be considered within the line of fire, but Island County Sheriff Mark Brown has deemed the range safe.
This is just the latest salvo in an intensifying battle over gun rights in Island County, and across the country.
Armed with the outrage from the Newtown school shootings, gun opponents have seized the opportunity to push for stricter gun control laws, but have been met with fierce opposition. In Oak Harbor last month, the city council overturned an ordinance banning guns in local parks when a passionate, persuasive, not to mention pistol packing crowd made their feelings public at a council meeting. Many said they were inspired by defiant remarks made at the time by NRA president Wayne LaPierre.
At the Island County Commission meeting on Wednesday, members told the crowded room that they didn’t have the resources to pursue the gun issue at this time, with other, more pressing financial issues on the table. They refused to move the issue to a council vote, killing it.
“I can’t imagine how someone would be opposed to this,” said Lyons. “It’s about keeping people safe.”
Lyons also believes a climate of cooperation has been co-opted by extremists.
“Personally, when I was going around gathering signatures on petitions, I was followed. After I did my first interview with KING 5 I got intimidating phone calls three minutes after the interview ended.”
Will Watanabe was there for the decision, as well.
“Good prevails,” he said.
Watanabe maintains this issue is about property rights, not gun rights, adding it's simply about common sense.
“I'm gonna continue doing what I do. I'm not breaking any laws, so why should I stop?”