City council members on Monday remanded the ordinance to staff with direction to “look at” language that prohibits “the target or any piece of the target. . .from unreasonably leaving the property as a result of the discharge” of a weapon.
The restriction had been added to the ordinance when it was drawn up in 2005 because a deer shot with an arrow bounded into a neighborhood adjoining the land where it had been hunted and expired in view of some residents.
Roswell resident and veteran hunter Bob Coombs, who was one of the loudest voices protesting new regulations for crossbow use eight years ago, told council on Monday that hunters don’t want to risk a fine of up to $2,000 if a wounded deer leaves the area where it was shot.
Consequently, the local deer breeding population has gone unchecked and deer are overrunning the city, Coombs said.
“No one in the state unincentivizes harvesting of does like the city of Roswell,” he said.
Councilwoman Becky Wynn said she had friends who are hunters and “a freezer full of deer meat. “When you hit a deer with a bow, they run,” she said. “I wouldn’t consider that unreasonable leaving of a property.”
Mayor Jere Wood said he agreed. “If someone shoots a deer and it runs off a property they shouldn’t be penalized for it.”
The issue surfaced when council was discussing changes in the law regarding discharge of weapons in the city. The ordinance covers air guns, BB guns, bows and crossbows as well as firearms, which are allowed only within an indoor firing range. Requested by Interim Police Chief Rusty Grant, the changes would include a $25 fee for an initial city permit to discharge a weapon and an annual renewal with a $10 fee.
Grant also recommended a requirement that anyone applying for a permit must have written permission from a landowner for discharging a weapon on a property that is dated within a month of a permit application or renewal.
That way, permission would be authorized for 12 months at a time, Grant said. It would protect property owners “who later change their mind but have no way to go out and recoup or reclaim the permission a person has,” Grant said.
Establishing a renewal system also creates a workable framework for law enforcement, he said. Since 2005, 175 weapons discharge permits have been issued, Grant said, and the department doesn’t have the resources to follow up on all of them to ascertain how many are still active.
Grant’s proposed rewrites to the ordinance were up for a first reading and council had the option to pass it on to a second reading and final vote or make their own changes before it came back to them.
By unanimous vote, council deferred action until more work was done on the ordinance language.
In addition to clarifying the language about a target “unreasonably leaving” a property, among the modifications council told staff to make were a longer period between permit renewals, lowering permit fees and omitting BB guns from the regulations.
The reworked ordinance is expected to go to the public safety committee on Feb. 12 for review.