Collier County commissioner pushing for backyard shooting range safety committee

Reporter: Claire Galt Writer: Paul Dolan
Published: Updated:

Backyard gun ranges are common in Golden Gate Estates, but it isn’t as fun when stray bullets fly through the community, hitting anything in their path.

Neighbors told WINK News they’re worried they could be hit at any moment. So, one Collier County commissioner is pushing for backyard gun safety, even establishing a safety committee.

Linda Mitchell and her husband Tom told WINK News it’s a daily thing hearing the gunshots in their backyard. WINK News even heard a few when speaking with Linda and Tom on Tuesday.

Linda and Tom explained it wouldn’t be such a problem if the gunshots didn’t stray into their own yard.

A few years ago, enjoying the fresh air in the Golden Gate Estates was suddenly interrupted by bullets.

“Bullets were flying. You could hear this horrible ding where someone hit our pool cage, Tom and I jumped out,” Linda said.

“Unclothed,” Linda said. “Two fat people you hear, I said get dressed quick and we did.”

Then, the next day they saw the damage.

“We came out and one of the lights outside our pool cage was hit and it was laying down,” Linda said.

While funny in retrospect, at the moment Linda and Tom say it was a ‘scary’ event.

“I hear gunshots, I come running in the house. I will not even let my dogs go out when I hear em shooting. Because of what happened before,” Linda and Tom said.

The couple owns guns but told WINK News they only shoot responsibly. They aim their shots into a berm in their backyard. But the Golden Gate Estates neighbors’ Facebook page is filled with similar scenarios.

On March 3, a man wrote that four bullets whizzed right over him. Then on Monday another man wrote a bullet shredded through a tree ten yards above their heads as their toddlers were playing in the yard.

Collier County commissioner Bill McDaniel Jr. has heard many stories about this happening.

“I could write a book on the stories,” commissioner McDaniel said.

Stories like these are why McDaniel said he’s appointing and setting up a backyard shooting range safety committee.

“We’re going to establish the committee next month and probably within the next three or four months come out with a list of recommendations,” commissioner McDaniel said.

While commissioner McDaniel thinks some added regulations may help. McDaniel said there are strict laws that prevent him from passing legislation. So, education is the next best thing.

And while he is all for Second Amendment rights, that also entails being a responsible gun owner. McDaniel told WINK News the education will likely involve pamphlets and flyers.

Copyright ©2024 Fort Myers Broadcasting. All rights reserved.

This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed without prior written consent.