Friendly Fire: Ohio townships try to mitigate instances of stray bullets hitting houses

Posted at 6:00 AM, Feb 17, 2017
and last updated 2017-02-17 11:11:35-05

Property in townships across Ohio are getting hit by stray bullets. These are not drive-by shootings; in fact, in most cases, they’re not intentional at all, simply bullets from target practice, gone astray.

Things have gotten so bad in Lorain County, some residents in Eaton Township and Columbia Station are fearful to even step outside, not knowing when the next bullet is coming.

Residents are complaining of frequent gunfire, sometimes at odd hours, but ultimately, with bullets that go astray. Property has been damaged, but in most cases, it’s simply because a neighbor was practicing for hunting, or using their gun and target.

Cities in Ohio can create their own laws controlling guns, for instance, you cannot fire a gun out in the open, anywhere in Cleveland proper. That’s not the case in townships, which are prohibited from creating their own laws. Townships instead are governed solely by state statutes.

Another component to this is that many townships, Eaton included, have grown significantly and now have a denser population. So while shooting a gun there ten years ago may have made sense, today not as much.

“Our idea is, give townships like that the option to create this kind of regulation of discharging firearms if they want to do that in their township,” said Matt DeTemple, the Executive Director, of the Ohio Township Association.

Law enforcement is having a hard time doing anything with this, as shooting your gun on your own property in a township is totally legal.

“We have a balancing act because you have the safety and security of those that live in that area and everybody thinks that, and rightfully so, that you should have peace in your own home,” said Captain Rick Thomas with the Lorain County Sheriff’s Office.

The Ohio Township Association has heard concerns from across the state and will be pushing the state legislature to pass a law that would allow townships to create their own gun safety laws.