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WINFIELD — The Town Council got its first look at an ordinance on the discharge of firearms.

During its regular meeting on Tuesday the council held a first reading for the ordinance, which states that it is unlawful for any person to shoot, fire or discharge any firearm within the town limits. 

Town Council President Gerald Stiener said there have been a few issues where people were using weapons recklessly. 

"We felt it was necessary to come up with some sort of protection for the people who live here," he said. 

There have been several incidents of stray bullets damaging property in town over the last year. 

In July, a homeowner asked the council to do something about target shooting after a stray bullet from a neighboring property entered his home, traveled through his bedroom and a closet, and struck a bathroom shower resulting in $1,500 in damages.

In March, police said a bullet hole in a basement window was discovered in a home in the Doubletree East subdivision. And last November stray bullets apparently from reckless hunters caused some damage in the Stonegate Commons subdivision. Bullets damaged a vinyl fence and a garage window in an area southwest of the subdivision, which is at Randolph Street and 112th Avenue.

On the following weekend, there were numerous calls from residents about possible offenders and shots being heard. Town Marshal Dan Ball then posted on the town marshal's Facebook page to remind residents that although there is no town ordinance preventing target practice or hunting on properties, those doing so are responsible for every bullet they expend and that criminal and/or civil litigation are distinct possibilities should the responsible person be identified. 

Officials said at the time if it happens again Indiana code allows for a charge of criminal recklessness.

Stiener during Tuesday's meeting said what they don't want to do is restrict people from using guns legally. 

Exemptions include law enforcement personnel acting within their capacity of duty, self-defense under reasonable circumstances and discharging a weapon at a lawfully operated shooting range, skeet range or gun club. 

The ordinance states it shall not be construed to restrict or otherwise prohibit the legal possession, purchase or use of firearms in accordance with applicable Indiana law, the Indiana Constitution or the United States Constitution.

Violations paid in fines would range from $250 to $7,500. 

The council plans to vote on the ordinance at its Dec. 12 meeting. 


Lake County reporter

Rob covers urban affairs and other matters in Crown Point, St. John, Winfield and beyond. Previously he covered Valparaiso, Hammond, Gary and East Chicago. He's also written for various magazines and pens a culture blog for The Times.