Too close for comfort: Knox Co. man wants gun laws changed

11:23 PM, Feb 26, 2012   |    comments
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After several hours of rapid fire shooting, Charles Claunch says he decided to call 911.

It wasn't the first time his neighbors took to firing guns on their property, but he says it was nearing his grandchildren's bedtime.

The three young kids live with Claunch and his wife in a subdivision on Smithland Lane.

He says half-acre plots separate him and his neighbors and when there's guns involved, he says that's too close for comfort.

"It just sounded like a warzone," says Claunch. "Pow! Pow! Pow! Pow! As fast as they can get them off."

Knox County Commissioner Ed Shouse said Claunch is one of two constituents who have contacted the commission in recent months about the county's growing pains.

As the population nears 500,000, Shouse says many areas are going from rural to more populated.

"I think we need to look at updating the law and make it more for an urban environment. Maybe make a distinction between a subdivision and a more rural area," says Shouse.

It's illegal to discharge a weapon within Knoxville city limits, according to city code.

But the Knox County Sheriff's Office says there are no laws prohibiting people from firing weapons in the unincorporated area.

Deputies are powerless to make people stop or arrest anyone unless the shooting escalates to "reckless endangerment." That means someone is in immediate danger of being killed.

"The law is quite vague in discharging firearms," says Shouse. "Let me be firm, I support the Second Amendment and the right to bear arms. I just wonder sometimes if life and properties not being endangered."

Claunch says he'd like to see the law changed to incorporate an acreage minimum for discharging a weapon.

He says until that happens, he says he'll keep his grand kids inside while the gunfire persists.

Shouse says he wants to hear more from the county's law director and the sheriff before they decide how to proceed.

He expects the matter to come up at Monday's Knox County Commission meeting.

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