At the March meeting of the Greenwood City Council the aldermen called for a study session to be held on March 29 at 6 pm concerning the firearms ordinance. The council will seek advice from the Arkansas Game and Fish Commission as well as from the public. The discussion of the ordinance started back in Nov. In Feb. The Greenwood City Council voted unanimously to table a repeal of the current ordinance concerning the discharge of firearms in the city limits until it could be further discussed. The ordinance was set for its second of three readings when Greenwood Police Chief, Will Dawson, addressed the council with his concerns of doing away with the law.
Dawson stated that since the discussion began in November he has received multiple calls from citizens concerned about what will happen if it is repealed especially in regards to BB guns and archery target practice. Before the ordinance was passed in July of 2014 it was illegal for anyone under the age of 18 to shoot a BB gun within the city limits. "So we are going to make a criminal of every kid with a Red Ryder," said Alderman Rod Powell.
Councilman Lee Johnson made the motion to table the repeal of the ordinance until a study session could be held.
In November Police Chief, Will Dawson spoke to the council about clarifying the ordinance. Dawson stated that a citizen that lives next to Westwood Elementary wants to shoot targets on his property. Dawson stated that he and City Clerk Sharla Derry looked at the ordinance and could not find anything preventing him from doing so. "I just wanted to make sure that was the council’s intention because he has the required ten acres and he is next to Westwood," said Dawson. The Police Chief stated that he was against the ordinance when it was passed in July of 2014.
The ordinance states the discharge of shotguns only within the corporate limits shall be permitted in a designated hunting area which shall consist of a minimum of twenty acres of open or timberland on properties, or two contiguous properties totaling twenty acres that were annexed after January 1, 2014, and zoned for agricultural or horticultural.
While the hunting section of the ordinance restricts firearms to shotguns, the section regarding target practice is open to handguns, pistols, air guns revolvers and rifles. Some of the firearms listed can shoot a bullet for miles, according to Dawson. The distance required by ordinance from any occupied structure while target shooting is just 150 yards.
Dawson stated that he doesn’t want to see the city return to the previous ordinance, which not only prohibited firearms discharge but archery as well. Dawson stated that was needed to keep the deer population down in areas such as Deerwoods.
In other news: Under direction from the council Dawson stated that he will continue efforts to regain control over the gun range near Greenwood lake. Dawson said that control was given the Sebastian County Sheriff’s Office who then gave it over the Fort Smith Police Department.
The Greenwood Police Department uses the range a couple of times of year but it is also utilized by several state and federal agencies throughout the year.
"If we own the property then we should be in control of it," said Councilman Lance Terry. "End of Story."