Bow and arrows legal in city, but for how long?

Julye Keeble

Staff writer

Though deer season ended last month, Uvalde hunters after other prey may be heartened to know that it is currently technically legal to hunt in-season game with a bow and arrows inside the city limits.

A spirited discussion was held by members of the Uvalde City Council Tuesday night at city hall over a proposed change to Chapter 9.24 of the Uvalde Code of Ordinances regarding weapons.

The current ordinance prohibits the discharge of all types of firearms within city limits, but does not regulate other weapons. It reads, “It is unlawful for any person to discharge any gun, pistol, firearm of any kind or any air rifle or pellet rifle within the city limits.”

Uvalde Police Department chief Daniel Rodriguez told council the department had received multiple calls inquiring about hunting with a bow and arrows in city limits.

After consulting with city staff, Rodriguez determined there is no specific prohibition against using a spring-gun, a bow, a sling or similar weapons to hunt in Uvalde.

After much debate between council members, including the revelation from assistant city manager Joe Cardenas that the gun range is in city limits and thusly technically violating the current ordinance, the issue was tabled.

Council requested that city attorney Paul Tarski look into the matter before further discussion takes place.

Rodriguez had worked with city director of planning and development Susan Anderson and staff to develop a proposed change to the wording of the ordinance.

The proposed new wording would read, “It is unlawful for any person to discharge any gun, pistol, air rifle, pellet rifle or any firearm, spring-gun, bow-and-arrow, sling or any other form of weapons potentially inimical to wildlife and dangerous to human safety within the city limits.”

“I think that would cover just about any weapon, and you can’t hunt,” Rodriguez said.

Councilman Rogelio M. Muñoz took issue with the idea of children being unable to shoot BB guns.

“What if your kid wants to target shoot in the backyard with a BB gun? Is that prohibited?” Muñoz asked.

“Technically, yes. We do get calls on occasion, kids shooting cans or shooting birds and so forth, so we respond. We just go out there and talk to the parents, let them know it’s not allowed in the city limits,” Rodriguez said. “The last thing we want is for that either BB or pellet to ricochet off of something and either hit someone in the eye or hurt someone.”

“That’s in the existing ordinance already. We’re not adding anything to that,” said Vince DiPiazza, city manager.

“The only thing we are adding is the bow-and-arrow section,” Rodriguez said.

Mayor Don McLaughlin Jr. was concerned about 4-H and other archery classes being prohibited, not wanting children to be pushed out of town to practice their sport.

“I think the whole purpose for this was to eliminate hunting in the city limits. If this is going to happen where say a 4-H club goes into the city, as long as they are safe about it and there is nothing this arrow is going to ricochet off and hit somebody nearby. I think we can make a determination about that on a case by case basis,” Rodriguez said.

Muñoz took issue with the specific wording, wanting to provide written exceptions for target practice and other scenarios.

“I’m talking about a kid who is just shooting in his backyard to just practice with his dad. I get what you’re saying, but your officers are limited to the letter of the law,” Muñoz said. “The police officers are going to say when they respond, you can’t do it at all. That’s what I have a problem with. I didn’t even know it was prohibited.”

“I guarantee you if we tried to go in and say, ‘It’s prohibited, but.’ If you do this with qualifications it’s going to be a lot of words,” Councilman Ernest W. “Chip” King III said, stating he believed police could make judgement calls.

“I think the officers use their common sense,” King added.

“I think we have demonstrated the officers use their common sense, because we have had this on the books for years,” DiPiazza said. “I don’t think it’s been a problem, but if the council feels like we need some additional language to narrow the scope maybe, it could be done,” DiPiazza said.

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