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.