Jackson County is taking a second look at an ordinance banning the firing of guns in most parts of the county.
The Legislature briefly discussed the issue at Monday’s meeting in Independence, which drew dozens of residents, but the Legislature assigned a measure to repeal the ordinance to a committee. That means it is to be discussed in detail when the Legislature next meets in Independence, at 2:30 p.m. July 28.
“We need to find a way that allows people to enjoy their property,” said Legislator Greg Grounds, R-Blue Springs, who offered the measure to repeal the ordinance.
The Legislature unanimously passed the ordinance last December, citing several reports from the Sheriff’s Department of “weapons being discharged in such a manner that the rounds travel from the parcel of land on which the shooter is located onto an adjoining property” and that those incidents “have alarmed neighbors and potentially endangered public health and safety.”
Since that time, Grounds said, the Sheriff’s Department has investigated about one incident a month, and some of those have been referred for prosecution. No injuries have been reported, he said.
The complication, Grounds said, is that some people have brought property – sometime large acreages – in anticipation of being able to shoot. There are other considerations too, he said, such as people needing to be able to shoot varmints or even euthanize a badly injured animal, he said.
The rule applies to the county’s “urban development tier,” which are areas in cities or unincorporated areas that are generally fairly close to cities and likely to be annexed at some point. Grounds said that’s 85 to 90 percent of the county. The ordinance also bans, anywhere in the county, firing a gun in such a way that the bullet will travel off the person’s property.
When he was mayor of Blue Springs and a large area was annexed, there was a similar problem, Grounds said, and the city settled on a rule that owners of 15 acres or more could shoot on their property. That could be one approach to addressing the issue, he said.
“It’ll probably be a compromise,” he said.
“We’ve got to figure out how to balance people’s property rights with safety,” added Legislator Crystal Williams, D-Kansas City.
Also Monday, the Legislature filled a vacancy, naming former Kansas City Council Member Jim Bacchus in the 2nd District. He will serve the rest of the year; James Tindall recently resigned from that seat. The district is in east, central and south Kansas City.