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Target Practice

OPINION - Guns: Personal Rights,
Laws and the Impact on Others

Feb 27, 2018

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I’ve commented on this type of situation before, but my focus was mostly the sound of the guns from duck hunters, not target practice shooting. Either way, it is important to express the effect of having guns going off from hunting and target practice around your home and how this can affect some people.

I know it is legal and I want to share how this impacts my family’s life, again this is my experience - others have different experiences. I understand gun owners and hunters are legally allowed to hunt/shoot a gun (provided you have the landowner’s permission) if you maintain a “safety zone” of at least 150 yards from the nearest house/structure. Strange because I think some rifle bullets can travel much farther than that these days, perhaps this law is outdated.

I read that it is negligent to fire a gun blindly into the dark at night, even if you are within the required “safety zone” I mentioned. Here is more information on the Small Arm Device Ordinance which outlines what is and is not legal regarding shooting and firearms in Sonoma County if you want to read more: https://library.municode.com/ca/sonoma_county/codes/code_of_ordinances?nodeId=CH19ASMARDEOR (refer to section 19A-5 for restrictions of use in safety zones)

One morning this year during duck season at 7AM there was a lot of gunfire that sounded like it was close by my house, probably 15 shots in a span of 15 minutes, and I spent 2 hours trying to calm my dog down from a panic attack from the gunshots and my wife was a nervous wreck too. I couldn’t get my dog to go out to go to the bathroom because he was too afraid to go outside because of all of the gunshots going off. My dog has terrible panic attacks when he hears a gunshot, even off in the distance. He literally goes berserk and tries to run and starts shaking and hyperventilating uncontrollably, it can last for hours and it is very traumatic for him and for me.

My wife has a highly sensitive nervous system and has an autonomic response to these gunshots around our home and it can have a very negative effect on our experience living here.

I understand this is all legal and that hunters/gun owners have a right to do what they do, and it is also important to communicate that it does have an effect on the residents and domestic animals (and wildlife) in the surrounding areas.

We moved up to the Sebastopol area a few years ago hoping to have more peace and quiet and get away from the hustle/bustle of the urban Bay Area. We have lived all over in different states and different countries (both urban and rural areas) and this is the first place I’ve lived where I wake up to gunshots from hunting so close to my home. Sometimes I don’t even know if it is gunfire from hunting, target practice or from some kind of criminal activity - either way it is unnerving and unsettling.

We live in a time where mass shootings are a regular occurrence in the US and I don’t like hearing gunfire near my home. It is not a good feeling. We walk on the Joe Rodota Trail every day and it is jarring to hear gunshots so close because we also have a friend who was severely wounded by a stray bullet from a nearby hunter’s gun when she was a child while hiking with her family, it almost killed her.

I wish that hunting/target shooting was not allowed so close to residential areas and public hiking trails. I don’t know how many others feel this way but I felt it was important to add my voice here and I hope others will do the same, whatever your perspective may be.

I would also like to advocate for hunters and target shooters to consider doing this activity farther away from residential areas so that the people and animals living in these areas do not have to be traumatized by the sound of gunfire where they live.

--Christian C., Graton

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