Township to look at laws about guns

A Union Township resident is hoping to create an environment in the township that he says will be safer for everyone living there. Cletus Smith, a Clough Pike resident, asked the trustees at their last meeting to make the firing of firearms illegal in the township.

“I want to talk about a guy who lives next door to me,” said Smith. “I want you to create some kind of law that says you cannot discharge a firearm in Union Township. There are 58,000 of us here and we are in danger because the police tell me that you can shoot a gun in a back yard where kids are nearby playing. He has 100 feet by 500 feet, and that’s it.”

Smith complained that the new people to move onto the property beside his home have made a habit of firing weapons in their back yard, which he said endangers children in the area. Furthermore, Smith said that the neighbor’s dog had been trained to attack, and did so whenever Smith went to complain. Smith also said that visits from the police did little to stop the gunfire.

“I’m not going to have this guy siccing a dog on me anymore,” said Smith. “I’ve been to the police department already. I want you to not allow anyone to shoot a firearm in Union Township. You don’t have any laws here for that.”

The township, while promising to look into the issue, may be unable to do much however. Sgt. Scott Blankenship of the Union Township Police said that townships are, by law, available for marksmanship.

“There is a section of law that covers the discharge of a firearm,” said Sgt. Blankenship. “In the township, you are allowed to discharge a firearm on your own property because you aren’t bound by municipality or city statutes.”

While there are provisions that keep people from firing too close to certain areas, such as a school, park or cemetery, there is little else the police can do to stop it, although Sgt. Blankenship said that the matter is still under investigation. The act essentially only becomes illegal, he said, when the bullets begin to cross property lines.

“If it poses a risk of physical harm to anyone in the surrounding area, or if it’s too close to a house or if the bullets travel off the property, it’s illegal,” said Sgt. Blankenship.