Nueces County officials are looking at the possibility of adopting new rules that would make it illegal to discharge firearms in or near a legally recognized subdivision, even if it is located in an unincorporated area of the county.
Precinct 1 Commissioner Mike Pusley presented information on the matter to members of the Commissioners Court during a Sept. 28 meeting. He said complaints have been brought to his attention by residents of the New Westlake Subdivision, located near the Bluntzer area, about a property owner conducting target practice near homes in the area.
Pusley said the property owner in question has constructed a dirt berm that is being used as a safety backdrop for shooting practice. The problem, Pusley said, is that the berm, and the line of fire, is located directly adjacent to at least four homes in the New Westlake Subdivision.
Darryl Elledge, who owns a home in the subdivision, said he is concerned about the safety of his family, as well as the well-being of other residents and their children. Elledge also pointed out that the makeshift shooting range is surrounded on all sides by homes.
“On two occasions, I’ve personally had live rounds go over my head in my front yard,” he said.
Elledge said the danger lies not necessarily in direct fire, but more with a bullet ricocheting off the berm or mesquite trees located on the gun owner’s property.
“It just takes that one — I just want you to remember that,” he said.
Pusley said he would like the county to make it a violation to fire a weapon, handgun or rifle, within a platted subdivision’s, 10 acres or less in size, boundaries, even if it is located in an unincorporated area.
That would include colonias and other similar developments.
Sheriff Jim Kaelin, however, said enforcement would be a difficult task for any officer, particularly since it would require having knowledge of the size of the property or subdivision in question on a per case basis.
In addition, the problem, he said, is that any violation of the county’s proposed ordinance would be a Class C Misdemeanor, and only then if the officer personally witnessed the firing of a weapon.
He did agree with Pusley and County Judge Loyd Neal that the situation needed to be addressed and offered his support to the court in trying to find a solution that could benefit the New Westlake homeowners.
“I don’t want to be sitting here a year from now and we’ve had some tragic incident, and we come back here and say, ‘Why didn’t we do something then?’” Pusley said.
The court tabled the issue in order to gather more information on how many platted subdivisions within the county fit the proposed criteria, and also to seek advice from legal counsel. The proposal will be brought back to the court at a future meeting.