To applause from a standing-room-only crowd, the Jackson County Legislature this afternoon repealed a seven-month old ordinance that banned firing weapons in much of the rural part of the county.

County legislators said the rule was well-intentioned but – as citizens’ reactions had underlined – overly broad.

Melissa Morehead, who lives in Blue Springs and has 36 acres on Major Road, said the Sheriff’s Department, the county counselor’s office and the Legislature all acted hastily in passing the ordinance last December, drawing applause from dozens of people gathered today at the Courthouse Annex in Independence.

“In one hasty move, you criminalized hunting,” she said, adding that people also need to be able to control game and varmints on their properties.

“You criminalized that, and you didn’t tell us,” she said.

Since the beginning of 2012, the county has received and investigated 16 complaints of bullets crossing property lines, in some cases hitting houses. The Sheriff’s Department has said the ordinance in until December – the standard now back in force after today’s action – is too fuzzy on what “densely populated” means and courts have consistently thrown out those cases.

So legislators banned shooting guns, bow and arrow and other weapons in the county’s “urban tier.” That includes areas that are generally near cities and likely to be annexed in the future, but it’s also come to include areas farther out and less densely developed. Morehead, for example, said she and her neighbors together have 300 acres, all with just one house.

Today’s move means the county’s 30-year-old rules remain in effect, mainly, no shooting across property lines. It also, it's illegal, for example, to shoot at a vehicle or a house, and it’s illegal to shoot recklessly.

More to come in Tuesday's Examiner.

– Jeff Fox