Shooting ban lifted on rural Pierce County private property

Staff writerJune 12, 2014 

It was a victory for Mike Boone and his neighbors this week when the Pierce County Council lifted a shooting ban on 148 acres of private property around the Graham area in East Pierce County.

Boone, an avid duck hunter who owns 40 acres in the zone where the ban was lifted, filed a petition with the council earlier this year after finding out he’d been hunting in a no-shooting zone for the past 12 years.

“When we saw the size of the restriction area, we were stunned and amazed,” Boone said at a council meeting on Tuesday afternoon.

The proposal passed in a 5-1 vote, with Councilwoman Connie Ladenburg voting no.

The decision amends an ordinance enacted in 2002 that established a no-shooting zone for 26,256 acres in unincorporated Pierce County. The zone was created by recommendation of the Sheriff’s Department at a time when suburbs were growing quickly.

“When it was enacted in 2002, the restriction was unwarranted, unknown and unwelcome, and that remains true today,” said Carolyn Lake, Boone’s neighbor who also owns 40 acres in the zone.

Sean Gaffney, a long-range planner who sits on the county’s seldom-used Firearms Advisory Commission, said the group supports this week’s change because the land in question does not meet the state’s requirement for a shooting ban.

State law says jurisdictions can restrict the discharge of firearms “where there is a reasonable likelihood that humans, domestic animals or property will be jeopardized.”

A majority of property owners in the area south of 246th Street East in Graham agreed the ban should be lifted.

Tom Swanson, a county analyst who spoke at the council meeting, said this week’s change will not affect any other county or state shooting regulations.

But Boone said this is just the first step in a larger process of lifting the prohibition from rural areas in unincorporated Pierce County.

Boone and Lake have filed a second petition to remove even more of their property from the zone.

After hearing public comment, Councilwoman Joyce McDonald requested the Firearms Commission do a complete review of the countywide shooting prohibition.

She said a report by the commission will provide more information to the council, and allow it to act in a comprehensive way.

“We don’t want to have changes here and changes there,” McDonald said.

Ladenburg said she supports a full review of the 12-year-old policy and wants it done before acting in a piecemeal way, as the council did Tuesday.

Ryan Tarinelli: 253-597-8670

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