Dr. Todd Barr and Dane Vannatter, of Cleveland, were stunned when they called police just after midnight on New Year’s Day because of a neighbor firing his gun and the officer told them there was nothing he could do.
Cleveland police told us they took more than 100 calls in the first few hours of New Year’s Day. Records also show more than 700 alerts came in from the ShotSpotter system that detects gunfire. Despite all the calls, no one was charged criminally.
“The officer said it is perfectly legal for someone to fire their gun on their own property,” Barr told the I-Team. “I couldn’t believe it. Those bullets have to land somewhere. How can that be legal?”
According to a check of city and state laws by the I-Team, state law says it is not a crime for a person, while on their own land, to discharge a firearm.
Several Cleveland council members said they are not able to change the law; it’s up to the state.
Two state lawmakers told the I-Team they are looking to make that change.
“First of all, in my view, this doesn’t seem to pass the common-sense test,” said state Rep. Casey Weinstein (D-37th). “This isn’t about owning a firearm. This isn’t about Second Amendment rights. I want cities to be able to regulate celebratory gunfire or discharging weapons on personal property.”
State Rep. Darnell Brewer (D-18th), whose district includes Cleveland, agrees.
“Our office will be looking into how to close that loophole,” said Brewer. “If something can be done on the state level, we’ll look into it.”
Barr said he hopes the state legislature can take action quickly.
“Those bullets have to land somewhere,” Barr said. “We moved to Cleveland because we love this city. I just want to have a peaceful home.”