Loudoun County lawmakers considering law to prevent stray gunfire

Lawmakers in Loudoun County say stray gunfire in the rural parts of the county is becoming enough of a danger to neighbors that they are considering an ordinance that would require further protections to contain bullets fired on private property.

The law would require people shooting at targets to use a backstop or other containment measure. If passed, someone responsible for a bullet striking a person or nearby property would be subject to a charge from the sheriff's office.

Loudoun County Sheriff Mike Chapman says in the last year deputies have seen a significant increase in bullets striking homes or in one instance a woman. Officials attribute the incidents to the growing population in the more rural portions of the county.

In September, a man was charged with reckless handling of a firearm after a bullet struck his neighbor while he was shooting at a target on his farm in the Western section of the county.

Supervisor Ron Meyer, (R-Loudoun), says the county struggles to hold people accountable under the current set of laws regarding stray gunfire. Under current county regulations, a property owner can't shoot a gun openly on their property if it is within 100 yards of another occupied property, but Meyer says it is difficult to prove who shot an errant bullet.

"If these instances keep happening and no one can be successfully charged we have to look and say OK is there a whole in the law and in this instance there really is," Meyer said.

The new ordinance would allow anyone found not taking the proper containment precautions to be held liable by law enforcement.

The Loudoun County Board of Supervisors will meet, possibly to take a vote on the law, on November 7.