Newton County hunters will get the chance to speak out on Monday, March 25 on Sheriff Ezell Brown’s firearms recommendations that would mean hunters couldn’t discharge a firearm within 350 yards of a roadway, place of residence, place of public assembly, place of worship or place of business. The recommendation comes after an increase in complaints about gun shots. If passed, it would eliminate gun hunting in much of the county.
“There have been in 2010-11 in (populated) Newton County upward of 1,300 shots fired, and then there were numerous citizen complaints and calls for the sheriff to do something about them,” said Levie Maddox, 5th district commissioner for Newton County.
The “private forum” meeting, which will be open to the public to attend and speak, is being hosted by the Farm Bureau and will be on Monday, March 25 at 7 p.m. at the Historic Courthouse on the square in Covington. The sheriff is expected to attend and explain his concerns. Citizens will be permitted to speak.
Maddox, who is a hunter, said of the 1,300 shot complaints in 2010-11, 61.5 percent of them were fired after dark in highly populated areas.
“Then we even broke it down to what month of the year these shots were reported—it’s not hunting season. It’s not the hunters doing it,” said Maddox. “The problem area is on the western side of the county where we have a very high population. I have told the sheriff I would support him through a public-safety ordinance while also protecting the traditions and hunting abilities of the rest of the citizens. We don’t need to impact their way of life, their tradition and their hunting activity.”
A private committee has already been formed, and they are all expected to attend Monday’s meeting.
“There are some (on that committee) who are looking through the lens of traditions and way of life and hunting,” said Maddox. “Then there is an equal representation who don’t want to overlook that (hunting tradition) but also give the sheriff a little more authority in handling the public safety aspect.
“The focus is on giving him the ability to zero in on highly populated areas. The whole thing is how you define high density, highly populated areas.”
Maddox said the earliest a firearms ordinance could come up to the Board of Commissioners would be late April.
For information on Monday’s meeting, you can call the Newton County Board of Commissioners office at (678) 625-1200.