Hunters Not Happy with Potential 'Discharge of Weapons' City Ordinance Changes

The ordinance amendments will go back to a March work session for further review.

As Roswell looks to make minor changes to its discharge of firearms ordinance the matter has stirred up renewed dissatisfaction with the city's handling of weapons permitting, causing the city to send the potential ordinance amendments to a March work session for further review.

The city first adopted its discharge of weapons ordinance in 2005, which some thought to be unnecessary since the state regulates hunting and a permit is not needed to discharge a firearm at an indoor firing range or to defend self or property. But acting Police Chief Rusty Grant says more clarity on the ordinance is needed due to the fact there have been 175 permits granted since the ordinance was passed and the city has no way of knowing how many are still active or where they're being used.

The proposed amendment would clean up some of the ordinance's original language, as well as require permit holders to pay a fee and renew annually for firearms, air guns, BB guns, bows and crossbows. They would also need to show written permission given by the private property owner within one month of application.

But local resident John Monroe seemed to believe the majority of the proposed amendments were aimed at law abiding hunters. He told Roswell City Council on Monday night that he felt existing state laws regulate hunting and trespassing sufficiently, which he believes makes an overlapping city ordinance entirely unnecessary.

Click here to see an overview of Georgia state gun laws.

Bob Coombs, also a Roswell resident, agreed, noting the state already requires property owners to give written permission to allow hunting on their property. He also spoke of a growing deer poplulation which cause frequent accidents and how hunters have been encouraged by the state to take down 10 doe and two bucks per season since 2002.

"There’s no [city] in the state that un-incentivizes harvesting a doe like the city of Roswell," he said.

But Councilwoman Becky Wynn, who said she comes from a family which hunts, denied the city was trying to discourage or impede upon local hunters.

"We're just making sure the person discharging weapons has permission from the property owner," she said.

Still, the council acknowledged the amendments could use some work.

While Councilwoman Betty Price questioned the need for changing the original ordinance at all except to perhaps incentivize controlling the deer population, Councilman Jerry Orlans asked for information on how neighboring cities handle the issue. Councilman Kent Igleheart wanted to nix the proposed fees associated with renewal and Mayor Jere Wood thought residents shouldn't have to get a city permit for bb guns, he also believed the renewal timeframe should be longer than one year.

They voted to unamimously send the proposed amendments to a council work session on March 12.

John Monroe January 30, 2013 at 02:46 PM
The changes in the proposed ordinance amendment are not "minor." The current ordinance already constitutes at least a technical violation of state law, in that it requires obtaining a permit before discharging non-firearm weapons. Archery tackle and pellet guns are lawful hunting weapons in Georgia, Roswell bans the use of firearms for hunting. By banning the use of some weapons and by requiring a permit to use all other lawful hunting weapons, Roswell is regulating hunting in violation of state law. Under the current ordinance, however, there is no charge for a permit, they never expire, and they are relatively painless to get. No one has bothered, therefore, to challenge it. If the proposed amendments pass, there will be recurring charges for permits, there will be training requirements, and minors will not be able to obtain permits. The proposed amendments therefore would impose a cost on everyone to hunt, would have greater requirements than state law to be able to hunt, and would ban certain people from hunting. These are not "minor" changes, and they almost certainly would result in litigation against the city -- litigation that the city cannot win. If, as Councilwoman Wynn claims, the only purpose of the ordinance is to make sure a person has permission from a property owner before discharging weapons on the property, all the city has to do is ban discharging weapons on the property of another without the owner's permission. The proposal really does more.
Pat January 30, 2013 at 03:22 PM
After Monday night's discussion, one is left pondering what could have precipitated the proposed change, especially in light of Mr. Monroe's comment highlighting the problems with both the current law and the proposed amendment. Why not let sleeping dogs lie? At least six years without incident, apparently, but for some reason we need to do something now? The article claims that inability to track permits is the issue, but not one problem is cited except record keeping on the part of the city. What are we all missing? Why a change? Council? Anyone? Mrs. Wynn was unconvincing, essentially pleading with those in attendance, "Who are you going to believe? Me, or what the document says?" We’re forced to live with an ordinance so sorry Becky, but you need to re-read the document. The way it’s written, it’s predominantly about controlling hunters. Thanks to those who stood up against this unneeded and unwarranted intrusion of government, with its regulation, into our lives, and thanks to those who will. This is the action of an activist council, intruding where no problem exists. It would best serve its citizens by moving to actually solve problems. Better yet, repeal the entire code section.
Mike Nyden January 30, 2013 at 08:19 PM
Part 1 of 2 I recall the situation back in 2005 that Mr. Monroe references. Fortunately the council at that time ended up passing the existing ordinance that while in violation of state law is so benign that no lawsuit has been filed. As noted, with the updated language, that would change. In real life, the existing ordinance really serves no purpose except to create a nuisance and involve the city, at some level, in people’s lives, which most people would probably forego. The city’s involvement is in addition to other government bodies that are legally required to regulate activities like hunting. Nobody seems to be citing any violations of anything to justify this “update” to the ordinance. Apparently though, the police department has had trouble tracking the permits it has issued, which endangers, well, I’m not sure what. Fortunately, the various issues raised at city council have aimed this update back to committee where issues like those raised are supposed to be resolved, which is a good thing.
Mike Nyden January 30, 2013 at 08:19 PM
Part 2 of 2 The question is though, why not take Mr. Monroe’s suggestion. The “problem” expressed by Mrs. Wynn is quickly and legally solved. The issue with the police department disappears. And it lets the city eliminate this ordinance altogether, since the ordinance doesn’t do anything and accomplishes nothing, apparently. We already have laws are on the books to protect people and property. This ordinance apparently does and will do neither, but instead may make criminals out of people who have hurt nothing and no one. (Shoot a suction cup tipped bow and arrow without a permit and potentially go to jail.) It also will subject the city to various expenses including (potentially) defending a bad ordinance in a court battle that it will lose, but that the taxpayer will pay for. What’s the problem that this thing is supposed to solve again?
Lee Fleck January 30, 2013 at 09:39 PM
Personally, I have submitted this ordinance to the State Senate research department to determine if it preempts state law.
R++ One of the Famous Dacula Crew January 30, 2013 at 10:04 PM
It would seem that the yearly renewals are for revenue generation only. There is no other unless more office staff is required to handle adminstration so the city government gets "bigger". Please members, reconsider and delete this package set altogether. If resources are needed to review, the City of Snellville has recently released some lawyers who could assist you in this task...
Jake Lilley February 01, 2013 at 05:28 PM
This is just a symptom of a much bigger problem. Roswell City Council is filled with RINO's (Republicans In Name Only). They claim to be conservative....they are not. Instead, they are committed to the Tax, Spend and Borrow strategies constructed by City Administrator Kay Love (a Democrat who Councilmember Becky Wynn (RINO) publicly fawns over) and the gun grabbing polices of Mayor Jere Wood (RINO) who is a proud member of Michael Bloomberg's (RINO) gun-grabbing "Mayors Against Illegal Guns." Does anyone see a theme here? The voters of Roswell need to wake up. It's time to toss out the establishment! The citizens of Roswell deserve better.


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