VA County Considers Stray Bullet Ordinance

Right now, the state of Virginia appears to be ground zero for the gun control debate. We’ve already seen a plethora of anti-gun bills filed at the state level, which isn’t making gun owners in the state feel very special at the moment.

However, one Virginia county is considering a law right now that isn’t really gun control, but it’s one that some gun owners in the area have only themselves to blame.

Loudoun County lawmakers have been working to change their current firearms ordinance for nearly two years, after several incidents of stray gunfire in the county where bullets have hit homes and even people.

In September 2019, a woman was outside her home with family members when she was grazed by a bullet. Officials with the Loudoun County Sheriff’s Office said people were target shooting on private property nearby and were using a natural berm, which aims to act like a barrier.

Since June of 2018,  the Board of Supervisors has been working on a new ordinance that would crackdown on stray bullets entering adjacent properties.

The amendment has gone through a lot of changes since June. Most recently, the board proposed an amendment that would make it illegal for a bullet to leave the shooter’s property at all.

“The discharge of firearms for recreational or target shooting purposes shall be conducted in such a manner as to ensure that projectiles do not leave the boundaries of the property or parcel upon which the shooting is occurring, unless permission to do so has been granted by the adjacent landowner. A projectile leaving the boundaries of the property or parcel shall be prima facie evidence of a violation of this section.”

Now, I don’t want laws like this to pass, but you know why it’s even an issue in Loudoun County? It’s an issue because some shooters failed to follow basic gun safety rules. They failed to know what was beyond their target. The shooters who have sent projectiles downrange and hit homes and people failed to make sure there were sufficient barriers to keep rounds from going too far.

Every year, we see reports of people killed by celebratory gunfire on New Year’s Eve, those bullets traveling miles before hitting their target. Why would anyone delude themselves to think that their bullets couldn’t do similarly?

Look, I get it. We really don’t want the government involved in situations like this because, well, the government isn’t exactly competent, by and large. If there’s a way to screw something up, they’ll figure it out and call it a law.

That said, this is what happens when gun owners don’t take commonsense precautions. Mistakes happen and we end up with people calling for laws like this as a way to keep us in check.

Now, I know damn good and well that most gun owners do things the right way. They follow the law as well as common sense. They don’t get stupid and they really shouldn’t be lumped in with those who aren’t doing those things. I get that and I’m not including them. They’re what we need more of, after all.

Yet a handful not being able to take those steps will lead to laws every single time.