East County target-shooting ban headed for approval

SAN DIEGO -- The San Diego County Board of Supervisors are taking one step closer to banning target shooting in San Diego’s back country.

Two popular shooting areas are located on open space in Dulzura owned by the Bureau of Land Management. Residents who live nearby have pushed for a ban for years, citing not only fire danger, but a danger to their lives.

“That’s why we’ve ben talking about it for eight years,” said Robin Brailsford, who lives near the shooting range.

She says for years she’s watched the area with concern.

“There was one week one year where there were six fires six weekends in a row,” said Brailsford.

The worst fire was last year’s Gate Fire which sparked in May. The fire scorched more than 2,000 acres and forced the evacuation of hundreds from the Dulzura area.

The fire broke out in a popular shooting spot named Pink Gate and the cause likely sparked by gunfire.

Residents who live near Pink Gate and Donohoe Flats, another popular area, took their argument before the County Board of Supervisors Tuesday. They said it’s not just about fire dangers but also their safety.

“We here the chilling sounds bullets flying through our properties,” said Cliff Keller, a resident.

Brailsford called the area a warzone.

”We have a constant shooting around us from people who are target shooting,” said Brailsford. “There’s an enormous amount of trash, we often fill up the bed of our truck with trash.”

“If we felt as a club if fire safety was at stake with this ordinance we would be all for it,” said Jon Sivers, manager of South Bay Rod & Gun Club.

The gun club is located right next to the land in question. Sivers said the whole argument for the gun ban isn’t about fire danger.

“We feel that’s not the case. We feel there are just two or three squeaky wheels that have decided to jump on this thing about fire safety and it’s really they just don’t want shooting in their backyards,” said Sivers.

According to Cal Fire, 10 fires in 10 years in the Dulzura and Otay areas were caused by target shooting. The BLM already bans shooting during high fire season, but County Supervisor Dianne Jacob pushed for a year round ban, not to include hunting or shooting in self defense.

“We’re not prohibiting all shooting in the area, only target shooting which has caused the problems,” said Jacob. “We all know it doesn’t take much before fire can spread to coastal, South Bay and other areas as we’ve seen.”

County Supervisors passed the ban 3 to 2.

A second reading of the ordinance is scheduled for November 13 and if passes again, it will take effect 30 days later.