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Posted: May 3, 2013 10:27 a.m.

New draft of gun firing ordinance released

Courtesy of the citizen's committee/

The attached PDF is the final proposed discharge of firearms ordinance crafted by a citizen's committee. The committee was tasked with studying the issue after an initial proposal recevied negative public feedback.

There’s a new gun-firing ordinance on the table and it eliminates many of the issues residents had with the original proposal put out earlier this year.

(Click on the attached PDF above to view the draft ordinance in full.)

The main change is that the recreational shooting of guns would no longer be prohibited based on zoning, as was suggested under an initial proposal by the Newton County Sheriff’s Office. This latest proposal was crafted by a committee of citizens with representatives from the Newton County Board of Commissioners and the sheriff’s office.

All hunting uses are completely exempted and will be regulated only by state law. The destruction of dangerous animals and nuisance wildlife will also be subject only to state law.

The ordinance would only apply to recreational shooting, namely private target practice (official sport shooting ranges are regulated by a different local ordinance and will not fall under this proposed one).

The limits on target practice, and any other type of private recreational shooting, will include no shooting:

-          on property less than two acres in size (this applies to all zonings)

-          within 100 yards of any residence, public buildings or roads; however, people would be able to shoot within 100 yards of their own residence

-          between 30 minutes after sunset and 30 minutes before sunrise; this is done to eliminate night shooting

Also new to this draft of the ordinance are state penalties for violators. A first-time convicted offender would face a fine of between $500-$1,000 and between 30 and 120 days of jail time. Anyone convicted multiple times would face a fine of $1,000 and between 90 and 120 days of jail time for each conviction.

The ordinance also specifies the definition of a gun to include handguns, rifles, shotguns or other weapons that expel projectiles with explosive or electrical charges. BB guns, air guns, pellet rifles and other air or gas-powered guns would be exempt from this ordinance.

“Every citizen who respectfully voiced their opinion was heard by someone on the citizens committee,” said District 5 Commissioner Levie Maddox, who worked with the committee. “It captures a tougher stance on crime, especially in high-density areas, while also providing greater gun rights and protections for law-abiding citizens.  We also really appreciate the citizens on the committee for an open-minded review on this topic.”

Stan Edwards, who was an official spokesman for the citizens committee, said he felt the ordinance reached a good middle ground.

“I reached out to several people in District 1 and District 5, and this recommendation captures their concerns of both safety and shooting rights. I am an avid hunter and shooter with safety concerns with my neighbors as well,” Edwards said in an email. “I think this recommendation suits the population of the county today and what it may be in the near future assuming we experience renewed growth.”

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