Licking County News

City's gun-discharge laws under fire

By ThisWeek Community News  • 

Jadeen Hergenrother is tired of hearing gunshots outside her home at 132 Sims Road.

"Hunting is one thing," she told Pataskala City Council on Sept. 17.

But, she said, "target shooting hour after hour" is not considered disturbing the peace in Pataskala.

In fact, most areas of Pataskala are legal discharge zones for firearms.

Pataskala Police Chief Bruce Brooks said the discharge zones were determined based on population and density. The city's website, ci.pataskala.oh.us, includes a map that shows legal discharge zones within the city limits. It is available by clicking on the planning and zoning link under the "Departments" header, then clicking on the documents and maps link and finding the listing for "Hunting Area Map."

"This comes up a couple of times a year," Brooks said. "People get a little concerned."

Police cannot do anything unless the situation is deemed unsafe, he said.

Hergenrother told City Council she called police during one of the target-shooting sessions and police said alcohol was at the site.

Brooks confirmed that when officers visited Hergenrother's neighbors, the people there were advised not to consume alcohol while target shooting.

"We encourage people to have fun, but they need to do it in a safe manner with plenty of backstops in place and they need to make sure they are not shooting toward someone," he said.

The city's discharge ordinance was adopted in approved in 2004. It allows people to hunt and discharge firearms in areas of the city that are zoned agricultural and rural residential.

Legal firearm discharge zones cover about two-thirds of Pataskala.

Areas where gunfire is prohibited are mostly along Broad Street and in older parts of the city.

Some of the rural residential areas where shooting is permitted wrap around medium-density residential areas.

Pataskala last reviewed the discharge zone maps in 2009.

Hergenrother said it might be time to update them again.

She said she is not comfortable letting her dog in the back yard, let alone her grandchildren. She told City Council she will consider trying to get something on the ballot, if necessary, to change the city's firearms discharge law.

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