Marietta council drops bow and arrow hunting issue

Aug. 25—Marietta council members dropped a proposal to tamp down on the use of bows and arrows and crossbows in city limits Tuesday night. The proposal had been drawn up to make it harder to bow hunt in the city.

Councilman Johnny Walker brought the issue forward in July because of reports that bow hunters had shot and injured deer in the city. In a few cases, hunters injured a deer and pursued it through residential areas to finish the kill.

Residents have apparently complained about bow hunters entering their backyards, injured deer stumbling across roads and similar scenes.

Under the current city ordinance, guns, including air guns, cannot be fired in the city, except at indoor ranges, in self-defense or by law enforcement. The ordinance does not address hunting or restrict weapons such as bows and arrows or crossbows.

Hunting is regulated by the Georgia Department of Natural Resources, however, so Marietta has no power to limit hunting itself. The city does have the power, though, to limit where and how weapons are fired in the city.

The council's Judicial/Legislative Committee, consisting of committee Chairman Andy Morris and members Cheryl Richardson and Joseph Goldstein, voted to table the issue in July.

In that time, city staff reexamined a proposed ordinance they had presented last month and simplified it. The new proposed ordinance would have mandated nobody could fire a crossbow, bow and arrow or other archery device toward a person, building or vehicle. It also would have prohibited shooting them at random on, along or across a public right of way.

"Previously, we were talking about 100 yards, 50 yards, what kind of distance ... we really just synthesized it down and said, 'You can't point (a weapon) in the direction of another house, in the direction of another person," said Parks and Recreation Director Rich Buss.

Walker was not present at Tuesday's meeting. Other council members soured on the idea of rewriting the ordinance over what they saw as a rare, minor nuisance.

"We have had one-offs every now and again, but removing rights that currently exist, and we're not having breaches (or) issues that are coming about, just concerns me," said Councilwoman Michelle Cooper Kelly.

Richardson argued that under the new proposed ordinance, the city was restricting something that wasn't a problem (using bows and arrows) instead of restricting the problem (hunting). But the city can't do anything about hunting because of state law, she said.

"The problem that exists we can't fix, what we're fixing isn't a problem," she said.

The committee decided to take no action on the issue, so the proposal effectively died.