Loudoun Co. targets stray gunfire incidents

WASHINGTON — After at least eight incidents of gunfire hitting homes since May, the Loudoun County Board of Supervisors is considering ways to lower the risk — but lawmakers have different views on how to accomplish the goal.

“Government’s job is to protect life, liberty and property,” Supervisor Ron Meyer (R-Broad Run) said in a Tuesday night meeting. “What we have here is a violation of property rights, because people’s homes keep getting shot, and no laws are being charged as broken.”

Nobody was injured in any of the eight instances, according to Sheriff Mike Chapman. Two arrests have been made.

Meyer and Supervisor Matt Letourneau (R-Dulles) introduced motions to modify county code, which would enable local enforcement to better enforce state laws about discharging firearms or missiles (any propelled object) within or at a building or occupied dwelling and the reckless handling of firearms.

In addition, the county is considering whether to double the prohibited distance of firearms near roadways from 50 to 100 yards.

The board voted to explore tweaking boundary revisions to the county’s map where shooting is prohibited to make it line up with current boundaries of the Suburban Policy Area.

“In a suburban neighborhood, we don’t allow discharge of firearms,” said Letourneau. “In Stone Ridge, it shouldn’t matter where you’re 100 yards or not, that’s not a place, like South Riding, where we would have this (shooting).”

However, Supervisor Geary Higgins (R-Catoctin) argued “the current laws on the book are quite sufficient,” and opposed additional restrictions.

“The only way you’re going to stop a stray bullet anywhere in this county is by prohibiting the discharge of a firearm — that’s the only way,” said Higgins, who favored focusing on informing gun owners about the safe handling of firearms.

“Education is the primary thing we should be dealing with, not making new boundaries that are unenforceable,” Higgins said.

Neal Augenstein

Neal Augenstein has been a general assignment reporter with WTOP since 1997. He says he looks forward to coming to work every day, even though that means waking up at 3:30 a.m.

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