Wake County residents weigh in on proposed changes to outdoor shooting ordinance

Jamiese Price Image
Wednesday, September 7, 2022
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Neighbors took their concerns to Wake County leaders and commissioners proposed changes to the county's outdoor shooting ordinance to ensure safety.

WAKE COUNTY, N.C. (WTVD) -- Gordon Copeland moved to his Knightdale Station community four years ago. "We sort of left the urban areas and came in this area for the peace, the quiet, and the neighborhood," said Copeland.

He said his neighborhood is fabulous, but lately they've been dealing with a problem that can be dangerous. "You know, we're about seven miles from downtown Raleigh and a straight shot to great interstate, highways, and evidently, straight shot for a bullet."

Copeland's home was damaged by stray bullets. He pointed out where the bullets struck his fence. "Obviously, it's like a rifle shot, and came through the woods and that direction and penetrated this post exited through here," described Copeland.

This incident happened in the middle of the day and there have been similar instances at night. Neighbors said they are in fear. "We have some residents that do not let their kids go out and play in the backyard anymore, it's a dangerous situation. Very dangerous."

Neighbors took their concerns to Wake County leaders and commissioners proposed changes to the county's outdoor shooting ordinance to ensure safety.

The changes would require people to use a backstop to contain projectiles and bullets. It would also require you to be at least 300 yards away from a home or building, the current distance is 100 yards. Violators will also face stiffer penalties and fines.

The board of commissioners held a public hearing to get input from people across the county. Some people opposed any changes, including Joe Matthews. "I think the biggest point of contingency is the distance. If people are out shooting and bullets are flying that sort of thing, then let's go get the people and handle them in the court system," he said as he addressed commissioners Tuesday night.

John Burt also opposed some of the changes but sympathizes with neighbors in Knightdale. "They are struggling right now with an issue where they do have an irresponsible gun owner that's giving responsible gun owners like me a really bad name."

But families, like Denise Durant, who have small kids see it differently "Our home right now has a bullet in it," said Durant.

She's a mom of two school-aged kids and toddlers. She said the bullets hit near windows where her family sleeps and gathers. "Where that bullet hit my house is inches away from multiple windows. Windows where my living room is and windows where my kids sleep. In Knightdale, it is a problem. I don't want to see responsible gun owners punished, but I do want to ensure my family is safe," explained Durant.

After Tuesday's public hearing commissioners voted to table any action on the ordinance to get further input. Commissioner Susan Evans suggested hearing from more experts. "I don't think we have this fine-tuned enough to know exactly what the answers need to be," said Evans.

Commissioner Matt Calabria said the additional time could help them understand the challenges law enforcement is having with finding the people who are recklessly discharging their weapons. "I really want to get something from law enforcement that's more official to help us understand what's preventing us or preventing law enforcement from moving to stop what's going on and that would be extraordinarily helpful."

While the commission tabled any actions, Commissioner Vickie Adamson said the board should still move with urgency on this matter. "I don't want to drag this out because the neighbors in Knightdale are in a very uncomfortable situation."

The next listening session is scheduled for September 13 in Knightdale.