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City considers firearm discharge ordinance
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After some citizen complaints, the Dawsonville City Council is taking into consideration an ordinance to curb firearm discharge within the city limits.

"I have been approached by a citizen regarding someone shooting guns in the city limits," said Dawsonville Mayor James Grogan. "We have a middle school, Lanier Tech and an elementary school, all within the city limits."

According to the draft ordinance, it would be considered unlawful to "discharge a firearm [within the city limits] within 100 yards of any street, alley or building."

Punishment would include a fine up to $1,000 and/or up to six months in the Dawson County jail.

"We also have a lot of rural [areas] within our city limits, as well," Grogan said. "For them, firing a gun wouldn't really affect anyone, so we wanted to narrow down this ordinance to a smaller area."

Grogan said he sees both sides of the possible debate.

"For me, I have eight acres behind me, so for me to fire a gun within that eight acres is different than somebody firing a gun [downtown]."

The council is also taking into account gun discharges for potential vermin control on private property.

"I have a squirrel problem at my house," said Councilman Mike Sosebee. "I would be within this proposed area. I wouldn't be discharging arms just to be shooting a gun. I use a .22 to shoot rodents and other vermin on my property."

With all these considerations for what can and cannot be done on private property, the council discussed current versus future considerations.

"We are a rural community," said Councilwoman Angie Smith. "Years ago, everybody had a gun and shot their squirrels and did what they needed to, but we're growing as a city and there are considerations to be made now."

However, the city must also take into account state law, which supersedes all other ordinances, county or city.

"The biggest consideration to all of this is if there is a safe backdrop. The law says that you need, not only a distance from a road, but also a safe backdrop on your property to shoot into," said Dawson County Sheriff's Capt. Tony Wooten. "State law says that you cannot just go shooting into the air, even in rural parts of the county."

As this was only a topic for discussion and consideration, no action was taken on the proposed ordinance at this time.