Terrebonne council to examine rifle shooting
Todd Duplantis can still hear the bullet whizzing by.
Duplantis was on the back porch of his home on Bayouside Drive, where he owns a few acres. It was Christmas Eve, and he was enjoying the crisp winter weather for a moment. Then he heard the shot.
“I hear what sounds like a high-powered rifle being shot. And within seconds, I mean, I hear a round fly by my head. It’s a “WHOO!” like a high-pitched sound,” Duplantis said. “You could just feel the wind pass by, and it’s a loud, screeching sound. Scared the hell out of me.”
Duplantis’s problem hasn’t stopped, as he said his wife had to run inside their home this past weekend upon hearing gunfire. According to him, he resorts to basic human instinct to stay safe these days.
“I was in my yard the other day, I hear it and I just get down. I get down on the ground because I don’t know where the rounds are coming from,” Duplantis said.
It is those fears that have motivated Duplantis to go before the Terrebonne Parish Council tonight and have the council examine the issue. Duplantis said he would like for the parish to amend its code of ordinances to increase the distance someone must be from a residence to shoot any gun that isn’t a shotgun from its current 300 ft. to 1,000 ft.
According to Duplantis, the increased distance would cover him, as the shooters on Christmas Eve were on Country Drive, about 1,300 feet from his home. Because people must be the required distance from even their own home, those shooters on Country Drive would have had to walk further from their own property, putting them within 1,000 feet of his home.
Duplantis said he has spoken with both Terrebonne Parish Sheriff Jerry Larpenter and District Attorney Joe Waitz, who both support the measure. Larpenter said his office receives several calls a month regarding shooting near homes, particularly in the more rural areas of the southern part of Terrebonne. Larpenter said he does not see any enforcement issues, noting if the distance were increased, it would be easier to identify those too close to a house.
“You’ve got some people that don’t know how to handle weapons and they want to get out there and start target practice, just shooting hundreds of rounds into the air,” Larpenter said. “They think because they’re shooting it on their private property, they ain’t going to get charged. But I’m telling you, if they shoot where bullets are flying over people’s houses and we catch them, we’re going to charge them.”
Larpenter said those who have enough property to be far away enough from their homes and build mounds for target practice are not the problem. Those mounds, if large enough, can serve as a backstop to catch any stray bullets. However, those shooting without backstops are posing risks to those such as Duplantis.
“They’re shooting at cans on the ground or shooting at a target on the damn tree. And if they miss the damn target, the bullet’s going to keep going. It ain’t going to stop until it hits an object to stop it,” Larpenter said.
Both Duplantis and Larpenter said they are not targeting hunters, noting they generally do not abuse the ordinance as it is. Larpenter said hunters are usually in trees shooting down at the ground, in comparison to those shooting a target in the air. For those who wish to practice shooting with high-powered rifles, both suggested the gun ranges at either the Terrebonne or Lafourche sheriff’s offices.
“I’m not targeting hunters. I’m not targeting shotguns. I’m for the right to bear arms. Hey, I own guns. But, it has to be done in a safe and prudent manner,” Duplantis said.
Duplantis noted that rounds from high-powered rifles could travel miles if uninterrupted. Larpenter said the risks posed by those shooting outweigh their desires to keep their shooting eye sharp, particularly in rural areas neighboring residential ones.
“It could be dangerous and we want to try to stop it. We just want people to use common sense when shooting with that rifle. Once that bullet leaves a rifle, you’re not bringing it back,” Larpenter said.