An ordinance which would have put a restriction on weapons within the city limits got a resounding “no” vote from the Kodiak City Council at its regular meeting last night. But in this case, one of those “no’s” meant “yes.”
The ordinance sprang from a couple of incidents over the last few years, one which involved a hunter who legally shot a deer on Near Island, and another where someone shot a deer with a bow and arrow and left it on the side of a city road.
These two events led to the city’s investigation into banning the firing of projectile weapons – including blow guns, paint ball guns, and BB guns – within city limits in order to protect residents. It should be noted that no victims of stray projectiles have been recorded.
Members of the public pointed out that the ordinance as written would forbid them from using weapons in their own backyards, and so the city added an amendment which would permit weapons on private property and when used in organized sporting activities.
Some members of the public still protested. That includes Joseph Mauer, who gave comment at the regular meeting last night. He said the city should ban the use of projectile weapons in specific areas rather than city-wide.
“And if Near Island – if the ultimate goal is to make that off limits, easy enough to do, let’s get a consensuses, do that, put a sign up on the bridge. It’s inexpensive. Gonna be very expensive to sign off most of Pillar Mountain, ‘cause that’s the only way you’re gonna let people know that it’s off limits.”
The majority of the council agreed that if it ain’t broke, don’t fix it. Councilman John Whiddon said there are already laws against the misuse of weapons.
“So this is just really preventing something that might happen, and I believe that history has shown over the last 15 to 20 years that I’m aware of that there have been no examples of anybody of being injured accidentally by a weapon that’s been fired within the city limits, so I don’t want to provide a solution to a problem that doesn’t exist.”
He also said he didn’t think the city could write an ordinance to regulate common sense.
Other council members, like Laura Arboleda, pointed out that it would be challenging for the Kodiak Police Department to regulate the use of weaponry, and police officers already have enough on their plate with issues like drug crime to deal with.
Councilman Rich Walker said some residents have been hunting on Pillar Mountain and other areas close to town for many years, and he wouldn’t want to take that right away from them.
It remained for Councilman Charlie Davidson to be the lone voice of support for the ban. He said hunting within city limits is a threat to pedestrians.
“I would like to know ‘Where does the responsibility live?’ Is there a deep pocket theory here that all the citizens are gonna be responsible, that some careless or accidental thing happens that wounds or perhaps kill a fellow citizen? I think – this is a mild thing – but maybe to make exempt Pillar Mountain or certain areas where it’s uninhabited? I could go for that.”
Davidson said the public needs more time to give comment.
He voted no on both the amendment and the main ordinance with the impression that a councilman voting on the prevailing side has the option to bring an ordinance back for reconsideration. However, according to the city’s clerk office, that action needs to happen before the end of the session, which ended the same night as the regular meeting. That means that Davidson’s no was accidentally his final word on the matter.