By ERIC A. HOWALD
Of the Keizertimes

In its meeting Monday, Sept. 17, the Keizer City Council took its most bold steps to date toward stopping bullets traveling from a shooting range across the Willamette River into west Keizer neighborhoods.

During the meeting, the council opted to join, as intervenors, a $2.7 million civil lawsuit and request for an injunction against the D. Lance Davis and his business, Northwest Rock, Inc. Davis owns the quarry being used as a recreational shooting range from which bullets have traveled into a city park and into the home of a Keizer couple in the past year.

As an intervenor in the injunction portion of the lawsuit, the city will not be entitled to monetary awards, but it is an act of solidarity with the plaintiffs, Tom and Sheryl Bauer, seeking a permanent stoppage to the property being used as a shooting range. In June, a bullet from the range passed through the outer wall of the Bauers’ home and stopped only after hitting a granite backsplash.

“The goal of the injunction is a common one. It’s the same thing the city council wants and that’s to have [the shooting] stop,” said Keizer City Attorney Shannon Johnson prior to the council approving the action. “I want to warn you that there are downsides, but this is a situation that we’ve never run into. We have concerns for the safety of our citizens.”

Johnson said the primary risk for the city will come in the possibility of needing to enlist outside counsel on the matter.

Councilor Amy Ryan asked where funds would come from if additional legal help was needed.  Johnson said that determination would likely be made at the time, but contingency funds were the most probable source.

“When you talk about additional funds, nothing can replace lives and I am completely behind this,” said Councilor Roland Herrera.

Johnson chuckled when asked if the time dedicated to the lawsuit would detract from other priorities, “It has and it will continue, but those issues are, frankly, not as important as this.”

The council unanimously approved moving forward as intervenors.

In addition, the councildirected city staff to draft a letter to the Oregon Legislature asking the state’s governing bodies to “address the dangerous and unacceptable situation with regard to discharge of firearms in close proximity to urban areas.”

Mayor Cathy Clark asked whether the letter should address rural as well as urban areas, but City Manager Chris Eppley and Johnson cautioned against expanding the parameters of the request.

“Going the legislative route is going to be a tough row to hoe. Crafting something that walks the appropriate line is going to be difficult and, the broader you cast the net, the more people will join in the opposition,” Eppley said.

Councilor Marlene Parsons asked whether hunting along the river should be an additional consideration, but waterways are mostly controlled by the state.

“The state has recourse if a hunter is the bad actor in this,” Clark said.

Gary Blake, a member of the West Keizer Neighborhood Association, thanked the council for its actions, saying, “This shooting issue is something that needs to be addressed and I really appreciate your action tonight.”