‘Crow’ precinct residents petition county council for no-shooting zone in neighborhood

County council member Reagan Dunn is normally against no-shooting zones, but safety here has become an issue.

Some unincorporated King County residents are lobbying their officials to create another “no shooting” area in the Crow voting precinct.

The petition and related legislation, submitted in fall 2022, was approved by the King County Council’s Law, Justice, Health and Human Services Committee and is heading its way to the main council to be addressed March 28.

According to the petition and its nearly 32 signees, shooting in the area has become a safety issue.

“Most of the area is private forested land but also includes Washington State Jellum Park and an equestrian facility which have domestic animals coming and going throughout the trails. These areas are traveled by dog walkers, horseback riders, hikers as well as off-road vehicles. The areas set up for shooting are random, no berm and no setbacks of any sort,” the petition reads. “Individuals have had to interrupt their activities for safety reasons due to the random shooting sometimes less than 500 feet from the equestrian buildings… it is very dangerous for all the students and instructors to hear sudden and unexpected shooting causing a 1200 lb. house to panic and bolt. Trail riding and hiking in the area is dangerous and scary because the people shooting are not shooting into an earthen berm and do not restrain from shooting in the presence of people and horses.”

Several people in the area supporting the no shooting zone spoke during the March 7 committee meeting.

“There’s a vacant lot near our home that’s become a site for regular target practice, not just for the property owners but for their friends. It’s not uncommon for a large group to congregate on the vacant lot and fire guns for multiple hours straight on a weekend,” said Ginger Callison, noting that one day in July the gunfire lasted for four hours. “We don’t feel comfortable approaching the… people with guns and asking them to stop firing them… we now do not feel safe allowing our grandkids to play outside when this is happening, out of fear of errant gunfire. We don’t allow our pets out, either.”

Johnna Thompson said she’s woken up to early morning gunfire, and other explosions have “completely incapacitated” her husband, who suffered from a stroke a few years back.

And Nancy Blystone, who owns the equestrian facility, said she’s often handling her horses when the gunfire starts, and it’s “terrifying” to be handling such a large animal when it gets spooked; her husband Victor Sivitilli added that it’s been impossible to get assistance from law enforcement.

There’s already one no shooting area in the Crow precinct in the Black Diamond Open Area, a popular destination for nature lovers.

The proposed no shooting area is just north of a bend in the Green River and the Jellum Site.

The ordinance being considered is sponsored by Council member Reagan Dunn, who said he listened to some “compelling public testimony” that helped him decide to support his constituents’ petition.

“Generally I disfavor no shooting zones because I’m a pretty strong Second Amendment supporter,” he said in a recent interview. But “there’s a difference between shooters and hunters in this case… there’s several good gun rages nearby that people can use.”

Dunn noted that it’s already illegal to discharge a weapon within 500 feet of a structure in unincorporated county land, but making the whole area a no shooting zone is the equivalent to putting up a larger sign to dissuade people from shooting in the area.

But enforcement will be an issue, he added, noting that the King County Sheriff’s Office is understaffed.