SANTA CLARA — The Santa Clara Council voted unanimously on Wednesday to prohibit the discharge of firearms within the city outside of city-approved shooting ranges or for personal protection.
The council voted 4-0 for the measure with council member Leina Mathis absent in their meeting at Santa Clara Town Hall.
The council has discussed such a provision for months in the wake of people shooting weapons in the South Hills area near homes, among other safety concerns.
City Council member Ben Shakespeare said he is a “shooter” himself, but added that such a measure is necessary to prevent indiscriminate shooting that could inadvertantly injure residents.
“I know there will be disappointed folks, but in the best interest of safety, this is the best move,” Shakespeare said. “For those who like to shoot, you want places to shoot … . The shooting range is the best location.”
Under the new ordinance, which takes effect in mid-February, a resident faces a $750 fine and 90 days in jail if a weapon is discharged within city limits unless it is:
- Used in defense of self, others or property
- Used by law enforcement on duty
- Discharged at a city-approved shooting range or gallery
- Used for nuissance wildlife control or the slaughter of trapped animals or livestock
A similar ordinance already exists to the north in Ivins.
Santa Clara-Ivins Police Chief Bob Flowers called the ordinance “way overdue,” but he added that the initial enforcement of the new ordinance will be “soft” and mostly consist of warnings and education, rather than citations for at least the first few months.
“The soft approach is the way to go,” Flowers said. “We’ll approach it as an educational thing before we go out and write citations.”
The new ordinance also bans the trapping of non-rodent animals outside private property or a licenced trapper.
Council members noted the rights of residents to possess and use firearms but also expressed the need for people to know where they’re shooting.
“I wish there was a better solution, but this is the safe solution,” council member Jarett Waite said.
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