Bow changes fall short in council vote


JASPER — Some Jasper Common Council members thought they’d hit the target when changes to the city’s firearms and bows ordinance were voted on Wednesday night. They learned after the meeting, though, that they’d just missed the mark.

Among other changes, the modifications would have allowed for crossbows to be used within corporate limits under certain conditions. A 4-3 vote in favor of the new language was tallied after a lengthy debate — but that didn’t result in the ordinance passing.

Following the meeting, City Attorney Renee Kabrick explained that because a single reading of the ordinance was held, passing it required a two-thirds majority — or five votes. Kabrick said that likely options moving forward now include making proposed changes and bringing the legislation back to the council with a new look.

“It may not be significantly different —hat will be up to the proponents,” she wrote in a Wednesday text message.

Chad Lueken, John Schroeder, Paul Lorey, and Kevin Manley voted in favor of the new ordinance. Nancy Eckerle, Phil Mundy and Dave Hurst voted against. These two sides clashed over safety issues throughout the discussion leading up to the vote.

“I’ve talked to probably 20, 25 people about this,” Eckerle said early in the discussion. “Any group I’m in, I ask, ‘What do you think about this?’ And immediately — ‘Woah.’ Even people that are hunters, they were very much opposed to this happening within the city limits.”

The ordinance changes would have removed crossbows from the list of guns, rifles, revolvers, pistols, canons and other instruments that cannot be discharged in Jasper’s city limits (unless at a public or private shooting or archery range, or by proper officials engaged in their duties).

If passed, it would have treated crossbows like other bows within the city limits: Allowing them to be fired only at approved kinds of targets that have backstops that are 100% larger than the target in each direction, with minimum heights and widths of 6 feet. Adequately wooded areas and agricultural areas void of regular human use or occupation would also have been eligible to be used as backstops.

Arrows would not have been allowed to have been discharged on public property owned by the city — including parks department grounds — unless on an archery range owned by the city for such purpose, or through a managed hunt approved by the city council or the mayor.

For all archery equipment, the maximum allowable distance from the archer to the target would have been extended to 40 yards under the proposed ordinance. Broadhead arrows would remain prohibited, as would discharging allowed arrows in reckless manners. These included shooting them across any alley, roadway or right of way; in such fashion that they travel beyond the boundaries of the property on which the person is shooting; or at any living being.

Under the proposed ordinance, the city code enforcement officer and the Jasper Police Department would have had the authority to declare a range created as unsafe for use based on its conditions.

Two members of the public spoke to the council in support of the new ordinance, and Lueken said during the meeting that the changes would have built upon the city’s existing archery language.

“It’s really just a continuation of the other ordinance that’s already in place,” Kevin Shepherd, manager of The Great Outdoors in Jasper, said at the meeting, later adding that the proposed changes would have brought clarity to the current ordinance.

Kabrick expressed concerns with the proposed changes because of their lack of widespread application. She voiced support for more specific conditions and requirements needed to use crossbows.

“I will tell you that I personally am not comfortable, from a legal standpoint, passing an ordinance that, upfront, we know that the majority of the lots in the city of Jasper are unsafe,” Kabrick said a while before the vote. “I wouldn’t want to be our code enforcement officer or the police department that now has to go out and determine which of these lots is safe and which isn’t.”

The next regular Jasper Common Council meeting is set to take place at 5:30 p.m. on Wednesday, Sept. 23, at City Hall, 610 Main St.

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