NEW FRANKLIN  Nearly 125 residents made their voices heard during a two and half hour public meeting in New Franklin regarding a proposed firearms ordinance.

The issue arose this summer when several complaints about excessive shooting reached Mayor Paul Adamson’s desk. He said the city doesn’t have any ordinances on the books in regards to discharging a firearm in the city.

Two of those complaints originated because of shooting on Bob Ball’s property. Ball said he spent $60,000 buying the property and building a mound and he hopes to one day build his dream home on the land.

Ball said he has been accused of running a business on his property, which he said is not the case. He, along with others, have been shooting on the property, but they say they've been doing so safely with NRA instructors onsite.

Adamson did some research and created a draft ordinance, which he admits was too extreme and he used poor judgment putting it together.

“I knew we needed to have a conversation about this,” Adamson said.

The draft drew criticism from many residents during the Sept. 18 council meeting, which led Adamson to form a committee to take a deeper look into the draft and how to better address the issue. 

The committee, consisting of 12 residents, met for the first time Monday for two and a half hours to look at the parameters. Members of the committee also visited a range. Since the meeting, several additional residents have come forward asking to be a part of the committee. Adamson said he hasn’t turned anyone away who has wanted to be a part of the process.

Adamson and the committee worked together to create a second draft, which many residents feel is a step in the right direction.

Some of the highlights of the new draft include:

- No impact on hunting.

- The discharge of a firearm to protect livestock or domestic animals from attack by another animal, or to control/euthanize nuisance animals is permitted.

- The discharge of a firearm by any person in the proper exercise of the right of defense and security is permitted.

- The property must be at least one acre.

- The firearm is discharged into a backstop sufficient to contain the rounds being discharged.

- The discharge does not occur within 150 feet of any house, building, or portion thereof which is occupied as the permanent or temporary habitation of any person, whether or not any person is actually present.

- The discharge does not occur before 9 a.m. Monday through Saturday or 12 p.m. on Sunday, nor after sunset on any day.

- The discharge does not continue for more than two hours in any one session. One additional two-hour session is permissible after a one hour delay.

- Not more than one firearm is discharged simultaneously unless the backstop provides 42 inches of access for each shooter. In no event may more than six persons discharge firearms simultaneously from one property.

- The sound levels from the boundaries of the property where discharge is occurring do not exceed 90 decibels for one hour or 85 decibels for two hours of any two-hour session.

- A landowner, resident or authorized invitee who intends to discharge a firearm within city limits consistent with the restrictions set forth above shall notify neighboring property owners and others who might be in the vicinity before such use, by means of sufficient signage, symbols or alarms.

Adamson said issuing variances is something that could be done for property owners if they couldn’t meet the standards.

Committee member Jeff Nathaniel encouraged everyone at the public meeting to work together. He said having a proper backstop is a must.

“Paul is up here doing the best he can with all he has got,” Nathaniel said.

Committee member Mark Sedlack said he commends the mayor for being open and allowing the community to talk. He called the new draft a major improvement. 

Several residents voiced their concerns about stray bullets flying onto their property on several occasions. Other residents said they don’t want to see any more gun laws added in the city.

Resident Ken Payne, who has six acres, said he can’t get 150 feet away of a house anywhere on his property because of the way the houses were built.

The second draft proposal is expected to be posted to the New Franklin website sometime next week and there will be a section where anyone can leave comments about the new draft.

The draft is not set in stone as more changes and work is expected to be made.

Adamson said the committee will meet again next week and he envisions a piece of legislation could go before city council later in October or early November.

He said once the legislation is presented to council, it will go through three readings allowing residents plenty of opportunities to comment.