Editorial: Hunting laws need reinforcing
When common sense is lacking, government agencies see the need to step in with legislation or ordinances that seek to prohibit what might be called stupidity.
No one can legislate against that.
But good intentions prompted Prescott council members Charlie Arnold and Jean Wilcox to propose a city ordinance that would prohibit the discharge of firearms within a quarter-mile of occupied structures or city parks (with certain exceptions), or bow and arrows or crossbows for hunting within a quarter-mile of homes or picnic areas, campgrounds, boat ramps, shooting ranges, golf courses and occupied structures.
The necessity of their proposal was questioned by Tom Finley, the Arizona Game and Fish Department's Regional Supervisor for Region 3 (the northwest portion of Arizona) and other council members who believe such an ordinance would be redundant because of state laws already on the books.
Finley noted that state law already prohibits hunting with a firearm within one-quarter-mile of an occupied dwelling, and the department was contemplating a similar prohibition for bow hunting - a restriction that could be in effect by hunting season this fall.
He also told the council that when Game and Fish learned of the Prescott proposal, department sought counsel from the Arizona Attorney General's office and got an opinion that some other state legislation precluded the city from pursuing an ordinance.
Nevertheless, Arnold told the council that local residents had come to him with concerns about hunting taking place near their homes. Wilcox brought up that the drafted ordinance also deals with dangerous activities in city parks.
This ordinance, she said, would give the police department the authority to cite and enforce potentially dangerous activities, such as BB guns. She suggested that the city needs more control over its parks. However, Prescott Police Chief Jerald Monahan said officers could cite people for shooting BB guns, pellet guns or slingshots in parks.
While the ordinance that he and Wilcox propose might mirror laws already in effect, the ordinance would codify that legislation, Arnold said.
What it boils down to is this - a couple of council members have listened to their constituents' concerns and decided to act on them.
This ordinance might be headed for the trash bin, but at least we have even more awareness that some people worry about hunting near their neighborhoods.
Their concerns are genuine.
All we ask now is that authorities enforce the laws we already have, if this ordinance is deemed unnecessary.
And we also ask that people use their heads about where they choose to hunt.
When they don't, that's stupid, thoughtless and dangerous.