Saturday, September 27, 2008

Surprise City Council backs off of city bow-and-arrow ban

by Tony Lombardo - Sept. 27, 2008 07:00 AM
The Arizona Republic

The Surprise City Council on Thursday exempted bows and arrows from a list of weapons banned inside city limits.
The decision came after the council heard passionate pleas from archers, including an athlete who competed in the 2008 Beijing Paralympic Games.
On Sept. 11, the council voted unanimously on a first reading to add bows and arrows, crossbows and blowguns to the list.
Weaponson the list include firearms, BB and pellet guns, dart guns and slingshots.
But Thursday, the council agreed 6-0 to exclude bows and arrows. Mayor Lyn Truitt was absent.
City officials will work with archers to reach a compromise that won't prohibit archery but will still increase public safety.
Meanwhile, banning crossbows and blowguns requires one more reading, likely to take place at the council's first meeting in October meeting.
The Surprise Police Department sought the ban because of safety concerns.
Surprise Police Chief Daniel Hughes said he is open to discussion about the ban.
Hughes said the ban was never intended to hinder sportsmen, but rather inexperienced or irresponsible shooters that pose a threat to themselves or their neighbors.
"It's always been about public safety," Hughes said.
He said the city ordinance's language concerning the discharge of weapons is too vague. Officers responding to situations involving bows and arrows are sometimes unsure how to respond because they are not explicitly listed in a weapons ban, Hughes said.
The ban amendment appeared on its way to passage Thursday until several archers spoke out at the City Council meeting, expressing alternative views.
Surprise resident Eric Bennett, 34, is an avid archer and competed this month in the Beijing 2008 Paralympic Games. Bennett said a ban would prohibit him from practicing for future tournaments, as well as his mission to teach youth.
"Archery is an Olympic sport that allows athletes, young and old, an opportunity to compete and be active," he said.
Kari Granville, a board member of the Arizona State Archery Association, told Council members they could write a policy to deter misuse but at the same time foster archery as a sport. Council appeared receptive to the idea.
Pat Crouch, a field supervisor with Arizona Game and Fish, also pleaded with Council to wait on a ban. Crouch was fearful a broad ban would impact his department's wildlife management, including hunters' abilities to use the rural areas of Surprise.
Before the meeting, Councilman John Longabaugh favored banning bows and arrows, but he changed his mind after hearing their remarks.
"The archery community made a very good case," he said.

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