Kuna City Council members put off a decision on a weapons discharge ordinance after testimony from local farmers who said the ordinance would prohibit their regular use of weapons on their properties.
Council members on Dec. 6 were scheduled to vote on the long-discussed ordinance prohibiting shooting off guns in city limits.
The ordinance would make it illegal to discharge “any firearm capable of firing a projectile and using an explosive charge as a propellant, except at a regularly established shooting gallery or range licensed and authorized by Kuna City Code.”
The ordinance exempts law enforcement officers acting in the line of duty and also exempts citizens lawfully defending person or property.
In addition to the prohibition of firing a gun, the ordinance also prohibits bows, air guns, blow guns and paint ball guns in the public right-of-way and public parks.
Shooting a bow and arrow in your back yard is OK; shooting a rifle in your back yard is not.
Kuna’s police chief, Lt. Kody Aldrich, said that his department has had issues in the past with residents shooting guns in or on their property, potentially endangering others.
The main sticking point of the ordinance has to do with the large areas of undeveloped land that the city has annexed recently into city limits. The city is now about 18 square miles, including swaths of land to the southeast of Kuna proper. The concern is that this type of open land may be used for hunting or shooting but would be prohibited under the new ordinance.
Not wanting to prohibit that, council members directed city attorney Richard Roats to add language to the ordinance that would still allow hunting and shooting in open areas that are not yet developed.
But four farmers, who own large parcels of land recently annexed into city limits, testified during a City Council public hearing on Dec. 6 that they routinely use shotguns and rifles to shoot vermin and coyotes and put down cattle. They said that, as the ordinance is written, such activities that are necessary for their operations and protection of their land would be illegal.
Council member Rich Cardoza thanked the farmers for testifying. “It makes it easier for us to make a decision when we have feedback,” he said.
City Council members directed city staff to add language to the ordinance that takes into account the concerns raised at the meeting and to bring the ordinance back when it’s ready.