Shooting range settlement: Only shotguns allowed

A settlement reached between the City of Keizer, a Keizer couple and the owner of a Polk County quarry used, in part, as a shooting range was approved by the Keizer City Council at its meeting Monday, Aug. 5.

Attorneys for all parties were still waiting for the owner of the quarry, Lance Davis, to sign the agreement, but the move by the council puts the ball in his court. If Davis signs the agreement, only shotgun firing will be permitted in the quarry. 

“This is a tremendous victory for the City of Keizer and its residents,” wrote City Attorney Shannon Johnson in a staff report on the settlement. 

West Keizer residents have long dealt with noise from the range across the river, but the situation came to a head in 2017-18. In September 2017, visitors to Sunset Park along the Willamette River ended up fleeing the park as a stream of bullets flew into the trees overhead. Neighbors also fled their homes at the sound of a different type of gun than they’d gotten used to. 

Police officers confronted a group using the shooting range and led officers to a car with an AR-15 inside, but no one confessed to using it. Officers could not prove the AR-15 had been fired or who had done so, but they suspect someone was using it to shoot at clay targets tossed into the air.

In June 2018, Keizer police responded to a home in the 1300 block of Raphael Street North when a bullet, believed to have been fired from the recreational shooting range, penetrated the home’s exterior wall and collided with a granite backsplash. 

The home belonged to Keizerites Tom and Sheryl Bauer. The Bauers sued Davis for $2.7 million, but also sought a permanent halt – through a court-issued injunction – to shooting on his property. The City of Keizer joined the component of the lawsuit seeking the injunction

Davis had sought to have the claims dismissed based on venue and jurisdiction disputes, but those efforts failed and led to a mediation session between all parties last week. 

The agreement reached through mediation allows only shotguns to be fired on the property. One of the key differences between shotguns and other long guns is in the construction of the barrel. A shotgun barrel has thinner, smooth walls. Other types of long guns are typically rifled, which means spiraled grooves are cut into the interior of a thicker overall barrel. Rifling makes a bullet spin in flight increasing the distance it travels. 

Johnson said that the nature of the settlement, a stipulated judgment, means more severe consequences should Davis be found in violation of the terms.

“It would not be just a breach of an agreement, it would be contempt of court,” Johnson said.