PRYOR, OK —
/Insurance Committee is working to modify a city firearms ordinance before the opening of hunting season Oct.1.
The proposal is the existing ordinance be modified to include the phrase “No personal shall discharge any firearm, or discharge any bow and arrows designed and constructed for hunting in the city or on city owned property.”
The ordinance provides exception for law enforcement, lawful personal protection and land zoned for agriculture.
While the city ordinance does not directly prohibit hunting in city limits it does say “no person shall discharge any firearm, in the city or on city owned or leased property except when doing so in the line of duty, when lawfully doing so in defense of oneself, or otherwise authorized by law.”
The code book does say, “The city council shall promulgate, invoke, create, amend and enforce such rules, regulations and other requirements as it deems necessary or expedient in connection with fishing privileges, hunting, and hunting privileges.”
Residents in an area south of Tractor Supply in Pryor are concerned for their safety, as they say hunters show no regard for homes nearby.
Bill Densmore said it is a relatively small section of land and both crossbow arrows and gunshots could easily make it to a residence.
“If one of these hunters shoot into Julie's [Neftzger] property she can decide whether to sue the city, the hunter or the Corps of Engineers,” said Milton Brown.
“If I'm alive,” said Neftzger.
Densmore pointed out that another resident of the area created walking trails, which are maintained and there is no reason for firearms to be that near a walking trail.
“At my house we take great lengths to make sure its safe, we have a back stop and it faces away from any other homes,” said Oklahoma Highway Patrol trooper Raymond Greniger. “Under this ordinance, I'd be in violation for wanting to go out in the yard and practice with my son.”
Densmore reminded the board of an incident in which a deer was shot while running across the fairway at the Pryor Golf Course.
A city ordinance stipulates that it is “unlawful for any person other than a duly authorized peace officer or game ranger to carry or otherwise transport loaded rifles, pistols or other firearms, or to discharge the same or to carry bows and arrows designed and constructed for hunting or to shoot the same in the area designated as Earl Ward Park.
“The provisions of this section shall not apply to hunting in a lawful manner either with a shotgun loaded with birdshot only between Oct. 1 and Jan. 20 of each year or with a bow and arrow, during any season established by state law for hunting deer with bow and arrow, in any part of the Earl Ward Park area lying northerly of the main traveled road running easterly and westerly across the area, which is so located that such hunting with shotgun or bow and arrow would not constitute a hazard to users of established picnic or camping areas or of the golf course area,” the ordinance says in regard to the park near the Pryor Golf Course.
Committee member Travis Noland said he is not sure the proposed draft is the best way to handle the citizens’ concerns. He said the ordinance should focus solely on hunting in city limits.
“This phrase “designed and constructed for hunting” does not preclude target arrows,” said Blaine Jones. “These guys tear down the no trespassing signs. On this 10 acres, there was a tree stand that could have easily hit any of us.”
Jones said the solution is “nothing short of a prohibition of hunting in city limits.
“I had just assumed hunting was illegal in city limits. As someone with two small kids I'm concerned about safety. I share a chain link fence with my neighbor. If he was practicing with a bow and arrow and missed his backstop, the arrow would come into my yard where my children play,” said committee member Greg Rosamond.
Rosamond said the ordinance's proposed amendment is “vague at best.”
Noland proposed tabling the issue to confer with the city attorney and attempt to draft something that everyone is comfortable with.
“We're against the clock, Oct. 1 is opening day and fall weather brings people out to the walking trails. So we're rapidly approaching a problem,” said Densmore, who pointed out that the area in question is no further than from the city hall to the courthouse.
“It's better to be proactive than to wait until someone is hurt,” Densmore said.
“As a blanket statement, it is safe to say that we all agree there should be no hunting in city limits. It's a bad situation that needs to be addressed,” said Rosamond.
Another individual present reminded the committee that Pryor Public Schools have an archery team and accommodations should be made for it.
Densmore said the schools also utilize the walking trails for science classes.
The committee agreed the first step is to confirm who owns the property in question, then work with the city attorney to draft an appropriate ordinance for the city of Pryor.