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Humboldt County officials want to end irresponsible shooting

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CARLOTTA, Calif. - Humboldt County farmers have been complaining of stray bullets hitting too close to home, prompting the Humboldt County Board of Supervisors to ask the sheriff's office and the county's attorney to draft an ordinance to put an end to reckless shooting on public land.

Shakefork Community Farm in Carlotta sits on prime land just east of Highway 101. Owner Kevin Cunningham said the sound of bullets is common in his area.

"The property is bordered by the Van Duzen River, as well as Cummings Creek on the side; it's about 45 open acres. The entire property is about 85 acres, so we got about 40 acres of river and trees," said Cunningham. Cunningham said his land by the creek and river make it a perfect spot for recreational shooting.

"I will allow someone to shoot down there, it is an open space and it could be used for that, but we have had issues with people who we didn't know down there indiscriminately firing off bullets," Cunningham said.

Cunningham said he doesn't have a problem when people tell him they'll be shooting on his property - but he said when they don't, he begins to worry about his employees and his four-year-old son.

"It's a little of a public safety issue because we don't know where the fire is coming from," he said.

Humboldt County Sheriff William Honsal has come forward to discuss a solution to this problematic issue.

"The sheriff's office is working with county counsel to draft an ordinance where it would create some restrictions for people to recreationally shoot," he said. "We're not looking at regulating hunters, that's not our job - but recreational shooting."

Honsal said it only takes one stray bullet for a tragedy.

"They feel like they're getting shot at, and it's a dangerous situation for the people that work down there," Honsal said.

But Honsal said it's important for people to know that the ordinance will not be a restriction on the second amendment.

"We're not about restricting someone's rights to bear arms; we're not restricting the people's right to shoot recreationally; we want people to shoot lawfully."

Honsal said the ordinance is still in the drafting phase, but he is looking at limiting where people can shoot. In the meantime, Honsal is encouraging people to be good citizens.

"Pick up your trash, pick up your brass, pick up all the shells," urged Honsal.

The sheriff said he expects to present the ordinance to the board this fall, and then there will be opportunity for public comment.

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