Firearms law exempts law officers in line of duty

COVINGTON -- County commissioners agreed Tuesday night to amend the recently approved firearms discharge ordinance to exempt law enforcement only when they are in the line of duty.

The ordinance as passed in May exempted law enforcement officers that possess powers of arrest whether on or off duty, or inside or outside jurisdiction.

Commissioner John Douglas was opposed to the exemption. As worded, it would have allowed officers with powers of arrest to be exempt from target shooting on property less than 2 acres and other provisions in the ordinance. Commissioners revisited the ordinance Tuesday and agreed to limit the exemption to officers acting in the line of duty.

"If we're going to have citizens of the county upholding to this, if they're not in the line of duty, I don't see why they shouldn't be held to the same standards as any other citizen of the county," said Commissioner Lanier Sims.

Sheriff Ezell Brown said he preferred that the exemption remain as worded. He said there have been no complaints in the past and if officers use a weapon in violation of the law, they will be disciplined by their agency.

"In our ordinances we don't exempt one class of people. Everybody's judged equally under the law," Douglas responded.

Brown said the amendment of the exemption "is not a big issue. It's not going to change the scope of our intent."

Other exemptions are hunting, protecting person or property, destruction of dangerous animals or for lawful nuisance wildlife abatement, at shooting ranges or discharge of blank cartridges for theatrical purposes and signals at sporting events, military exercises, funerals etc.

The ordinance also prohibits discharging firearms within 100 yards of any residence, not to include the residence of the individual discharging the firearm; place of public assembly or worship; business or roadway.

Shooting is prohibited from one half hour after sunset until one half hour before sunrise, with the exception of night hunting. Hunters must comply with state and Department of Natural Resources regulations. Hunting on another person's property is allowed with written permission.


Kornbred 1 year, 6 months ago

OK, let me get this straight..... The BOC wanted to include an exemption in the ordinance that would allow our law enforcement officers to enhance their marksmanship skills on a local outdoor shooting range that qualifies, but, it almost failed because COMMISSIONER JOHN DOUGLAS and COMMISSIONER LANIER SIMS (whose statement, by the way, make no sense) voted AGAINST this idea? Am I reading that right?? What are they thinking??


insideye 1 year, 6 months ago

It's obvious that Douglas doesn't like anyone with authority over him (mainly law enforcement). He didn't like the Conyers Police Department pulling him over on I-20 a few years back and now he wants to use his authority to get back at local peace officers.

Sheriff Brown stated it correctly " It's not going to change the scope of our intent."

Get over it John - push someone else around.


dennistay53 1 year, 6 months ago

I was at the meeting. This put's everyone in the same boat. It means law enforcement want get special priviledge when they are off duty and will have to follow the same rules as everyone else. Why shouldn't they have to when off duty? I believe Douglas and Simms were just trying to make it equal for all and to clarify it.


insideye 1 year, 5 months ago

Dennistay53 - Do you carry a firearm as part of your job? Probably not - but officers who do need to practice more than the one time a year (which is what Ga. POST requires). Plus, deputies, officers and troopers can't afford to go to local firing ranges to uphold or sharpen their skills. We entrust peace officers with the right to deadly force - I believe we can trust them to use good judgement when practicing with their weapons.


dennistay53 1 year, 5 months ago

@insideeye- as i read the ordinance they can practice as much as they need as long as it is on over 2 acreas. I believe research will show that many a innocent citizen has been shot by stray bullets from someone in law enforcement. They can cause accidents same as anyone else. Would you want the deputy that was speeding drunk on 142, (Off Duty) to be given special rights to be firing his gun that night?


Billy 1 year, 5 months ago

I'm not sure why this was necessary; maybe the purpose behiind it is to curtail lawsuits. I have posted before that outside of citizen defense and officer use in line of duty, there should be no discharge of a firearm anywhere except firing ranges and licensed hunting properties. Maybe I made too strong of an argument...


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