PORT TOWNSEND — The Jefferson County commissioners will consider what action to take next on a petition requesting a no-shoot zone for the Greater Jolie Way and Silver Berry Place area.
A majority of the residents of the area, which is east of Hastings Avenue and north of Cape George Road in Precinct 1201, signed a petition requesting that the county ban shooting in their neighborhood of 41 households. Of those, according to the information given the commissioners, 36 of the property owners live in Jefferson County; 34 were contacted; and 31 — or 91 percent — agreed a ban is needed.
“There have been multiple unsafe shooting situations that threatened us, our animals, and our properties,” said the petition, dated June 12.
“Despite past efforts to stop this, the threats continue and have recently increased to the point where we need to act before a serious accident happens.”
Commissioners can decide to conduct a public hearing on the request, facilitate an amicable solution within the proposed area or assign a review committee to consider the merit of the petition. They will discuss the matter at 10:30 a.m. today during the weekly meeting that will begin at 9 a.m.
To view the meeting live, go to www.co.jefferson.wa.us and follow the links under “Quick Links: Videos of Meetings-Streaming Live.” To join the meeting online, go to https://zoom.us/j/93777841705. To listen only, call 1-253-215-8782 and enter access code 937-7784-1705#.
Petitioners said they “are not anti-gun. Many of us own guns and some of us are ex-military with a clear understanding of gun safety. Many of us have lived in this neighborhood or in rural areas of the county for many years and are aware of the expectations of a rural lifestyle.”
However, incidents of unsafe activities have revved up in the past two years, they said.
Among those they listed are:
• “An individual repeatedly rode a dirt bike along both roads, drunk and shooting a handgun into the road and into a neighbor’s yard;
• “Target shooting was conducted on a property line with the guns aimed directly into another person’s yard and along a walking trail. No backstop existed. This happened quite a few times at multiple residences.
• “Random shooting occurs at all hours of the day and night and includes shots heard from handguns, rifles, semi-automatic assault rifles, and an unidentified extremely loud and powerful firearm;
• “We often hear shooting parties where people sound drunk while shooting multiple weapons;
• “One group shoots directly into a hill and the shooting becomes so intense that neighbors higher up the hill can feel the ground shake beneath them. This is an ongoing problem;”
• “Every year during hunting season, hunters park along Jolie Way and Hastings Avenue. They enter our private properties with guns without our knowledge or awareness.”
Petitioners said that, despite some large tracts of property, homes are mostly clustered within 500 feet of other homes and shooting puts animals and children “at high risk, even within their own yards.”
Also, people who live elsewhere often walk the trails.
“Weapons have become more powerful over the past 40 years, yet our gun laws don’t reflect this,” petitioners said.
They cited the National Rifle Association as saying that the range of a bullet shot from the old-style AK-47 semi-automatic military assault rifle was 400 meters while the range of today’s AR-15 is 2.2 miles, adding that a 9 mm handgun has a range of 1.2 miles.
State law requires shooting be banned within 500 feet of any public structure. The petitioners say other counties have the same rule in place for private property, “but in Jefferson County, our only option to keep our homes, ourselves and our animals safe is to apply for this no-shoot designation.”
Other areas of East Jefferson County have been designated no-shoot areas. These include Kala Point, Port Ludlow, Ocean Grove and Cape George.
Executive Editor Leah Leach can be reached at 360-417-3530 or at email@example.com.