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Firearms ordinance approved

COVINGTON - County commissioners approved an ordinance regulating discharge of firearms Tuesday night by a vote of 4 to 1. District 1 Commissioner John Douglas was the lone dissenter.

The ordinance approved is the draft previously publicized, recommended by a citizen's committee that met to focus on public safety and, members have said, give the sheriff an ordinance with some teeth in it while still protecting property owners.

The ordinance defines firearms as "any handgun, rifle, shotgun, or other weapon that is designed to, or may readily be converted to, expel a projectile by the action of an explosive or electrical charge." BB guns, air guns, pellet rifles or similar guns that fire projectiles by means of compressed air or other gas are not considered firearms.

Discharge of firearms is now prohibited on property less than 2 acres, except in the case of exemptions such as hunting, protecting person or property, destruction of dangerous animals or for lawful nuisance wildlife abatement, for law enforcement and military, 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.

Douglas raised a concern about language in the ordinance that exempts law enforcement officers that possess power of arrest whether on or off duty, or inside or outside jurisdiction. It also exempts any person summoned by such officers to assist in making arrests or preserving the peace while actually assisting such officers, or any other person otherwise authorized by Georgia statute.

Douglas said state law allows citizen's arrest, so the whole county would be exempt. Jenny Carter with the County Attorney's Office said such language has never been interpreted that way. The thinking is that law enforcement could be called into the line of duty at any time, she said. Following the ordinance's approval, Douglas made a second motion to reframe the language to state that law enforcement must be in the line of duty, not just possessing law enforcement credentials, to be exempt.

Chairman Keith Ellis said that would require an agenda amendment and suggested the board ask the County Attorney's Office to look into the matter and report to the board at a later time. Commissioners agreed.

Comments

nc333 10 months, 4 weeks ago

It would be nice to know what specific changes were made. On the face of it, this ordinance does not seem to be designed with safety as a priority. Basically, if you say you were hunting or dealing with a nuisance animal, you can shoot anywhere at anytime. Also, Mr. Douglas makes a good point about law enforcement. Acting in the line of duty is one thing, but having a two-tier system that gives law enforcement officials unlimited use of a gun isn't right.

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henrystamm 10 months, 4 weeks ago

Here we go again! the outsiders, mainly the relocated city slickers that have destroyed their cities and counties are no in charged of us. please leave, I'll bet you that of all the call most of them probably come from a handful of the prohibitionist. Shame of you dumb commissioners and sheriff.

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Billy 10 months, 3 weeks ago

Well, blast away, Stamm; don't worry about noise pollution, much less the safety of your neighbor. Outside of killing an attacking animal or defending yourself, there should never be a discharge of a weapon outside of a licensed firing range, PERIOD! Rich, poor, green acres, or in an apartment. (BTW, if you don't like "interlopers" in "your" county, you are also free to move). The Dukes of Hazzard days are long past. This county has more than 100,000 people living here. It's part of metro Atlanta now, has been for years and years... If people were responsible and considerate, you wouldn't have to have these laws in the first place. But, as the above post proves, people are selfish and irresponsible, couldn't care less about any one or anything other than themselves, so we have to regulate the discharge of firearms. Hate to have to state the obvious, but there's other people in the world who ALSO have rights...

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mansfield 10 months, 4 weeks ago

Let's see how many shootings in the Silos subdivision are stopped by this ordinance. So far, it seems like not a single 2am birthday party shooting, drive by shooting or any other shooting has been stopped. Shame on that gang of 4 commissioners for not pinpointing the problems and dealing with them but rather burdening the whole county with a nonsense solution because some areas can't/won't obey the laws.

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dawgs14 10 months, 4 weeks ago

Hey mansfield, the county was "burdened" with the previous law more so than with the new one. At least now if you live on 2 acres and are 100 yards from the neighbor's dwelling you can shoot. The previous ordinance stated you could not shoot within 100 yards of any buliding, including your own - with no minimum acreage. But how many cases are there really where a shooter could be on less than 2 acres and more than 100 yards from any dwelling to shoot? Except for oddly shaped lots, not many. To me the new law is less restrictive.

You are correct, even the old law prohibited the type shootings you hear about in the Silos. Murder is more likely in Atlanta than in Mansfield but does that mean we do away with or relax murder laws in Mansfield? I realize there's a huge difference between murder and recreational shooting but the same parallel could be drawn wih speed laws. Do we do away with or lessen them simply because a few people choose not to obey them? Just some thoughts.

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Billy 10 months, 3 weeks ago

Outside of defending yourself, there should never be a discharge of a firearm outside of a licensed firing range or hunting property. If you disagree, look up the concept of "other people." I'm pro 2nd Amendment more than anyone else on here, and vote that way, but I can't support any practice that threatens that right, and "I own property and a gun, and should be able to fire the weapon for any reason I please, at any time of day or night," does exactly that. Selfishness is not why the framers put that amendment in the U.S. Constitution. It was for personal defense and so the gov't can't threaten the people past a certain point. There is no legitimate argument to the contrary, other than "I can do whatever I want, whenever I want." Thinking like that I could never agree with or accept, especially on an issue as overwhelming important as this. Our gun rights will be taken away, not because the gov't passes a law, but because a majority of the public forgets the above framer's reasons, and that because of gun accidents where people are needlessly killed or injured, where irresponsible gun owners discharge weapons for the fun of it, or leave them for others (minors) to misuse. Better to have sensible restrictions on discharging the weapons than a ill considered "wild west" alternative where others will surely get hurt--or worse...

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John 10 months, 3 weeks ago

I agree fully with your comments Billy. We have traffic laws to protect the safety of others on the road and pedestrians but some how law enforcement seems to elect not to enforce them (e.g. deputies can't sit and run radar & site a speeder, exept on one road in Newton County) and what do we get "drivers gone wild" (while texting or talking on a cell (multi tasking I guess). You don't drive any more you "dodge bullets".

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henrystamm 10 months, 3 weeks ago

When guns are outlawed, and believe me that is exactly what the socialist are accomplishing, little by little and the under educated and dummed down pep-le are being convinced by some goody minded folks that cannot see past their nose we will be attached with meat cleavers just like what is happening in good old prohibitionist England. Is that what you want. we get what we voted for.

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