Sheriff shoots for change in gun code

June 20, 2003 12:00 am

By SCOTT PESZNECKER

A possible update to the Calaveras County firearms code could give some county residents more peace and quiet.

The proposed change would prohibit people from firing guns within 150 yards of houses, barns and other buildings on neighboring properties.

The updated code would allow people to shoot within that 150-yard zone only if they have written permission from the property's owner.

The Board of Supervisors is scheduled to vote Monday on whether to approve the code change.

"The 150 yards is considered a safety zone," county Sheriff's Department Capt. Mike Walker said. "If a person is shooting, there should be a buffer zone — a safety zone — between the shooter and other people."

In a memo to supervisors, Sheriff Dennis Downum said current code only bans shooting within 150 yards of houses or other buildings "designed for human occupancy."

"If a person runs an equestrian stable, barn with tack house and arena that is not designed for human occupancy, there is nothing to prevent the neighbor 50 (yards) away from firing their firearms while persons are pursuing their equestrian endeavors," Downum said in his memo.

Also, current code only bans centerfire or rimfire, which doesn't apply to muzzle-loading rifles. That would change if supervisors approve the new code.

"Modern muzzle-loading firearms are capable of the same shooting characteristics as centerfire ammunition, and are far more powerful than rimfire ammunition," the memo said.

The proposed code change was patterned from a state Department of Fish and Game code that prohibits hunting within 150 yards of certain buildings. The new code also matches the state penal code's definition of what constitutes a firearm.

The Calaveras County Sheriff's Department receives up to 10 shooting complaints each week from around the county, Walker said.