Pataskala residents in legal firearms-discharge zones are now unable to fire guns from dusk to dawn and will be subject to National Rifle Association safety guidelines.
Pataskala City Council on Sept. 16 amended the city’s firearms-discharge ordinance after three months of reviewing restrictions for recreational shooting.
The agriculture committee met before the City Council meeting and reviewed the changes before making a recommendation to restrict shooting to daylight hours and including language to prevent shooting from becoming a nuisance or an unreasonable disturbance to neighbors.
Counciman Bernard Brush, who chairs the agriculture committee, said the shooting would have to be done in a safe and lawful manner. He said the committee decided to include a reference to the NRA’s Range Sourcebook to establish safety standards and guidelines, such as those for proper shooting backstops.
If a resident is following the guidelines, an officer and eventually a judge would determine if the shooting was causing a nuisance to neighbors, Brush said.
The agriculture committee declined to forward a provision limiting continuous shooting to two hours per day – as previously discussed – because members said it could not be properly enforced by the Pataskala Division of Police.
Police Chief Bruce Brooks had said officers must witness the shooting to testify that it occurred for two consecutive hours or must have proof of the time period in order to charge someone.
Brooks on Sept. 16 requested the committee include a buffer zone between shooters and neighbors but Law Director Rufus Hurst said that might not help because neighbors still would hear the noise.
City Council approved the legislation 6-0, with Merissa McKinstry absent.
The legislation was amended twice: once by substitution to include all changes recommended by the agriculture committee, and once to include the reference to the NRA’s Range Sourcebook.
Both amendments were approved 6-0.
The agriculture committee also received two requests for property to be removed from firearms-discharge zones.
One came from Evangeline Fouras, a Summit Road resident who spoke to City Council Aug. 19 and complained of shooting near her property.
She requested 175 acres northeast of Summit and Cable roads be taken out of the discharge zone. She told ThisWeek the property is owned by her family.
The other request includes 41 acres owned by the Licking Heights school district west of Licking Heights High School.
Superintendent Phillip Wagner sent a letter to the city in response to City Planner Eric Fischer’s question about the property.
Wagner asked that the land, which includes the football field, track and vacant space, be taken out of the firearms-discharge zone.
Fischer said the school property is included in the discharge zone map, which probably needs to be amended.
Brush said the agriculture committee could consider an amendment to the map in October. Any amendments to the discharge zone would have to go before the planning and zoning commission before being presented to City Council for a vote.