City leaders responded to the Public Safety Committee's request for tighter BB gun laws with even more restrictive language on Thursday.
Leaders agreed with restricting BB gun use in city parks, as the Public Safety Committee proposed in response to the hunting of two invasive Muscovy ducks in a neighborhood pond in November, and they also asked City Attorney Tom Trask to add language to the city ordinance that would outlaw their use on all public property in the city limits.
"To include public property ... I don't think it's at all unreasonable," said Commissioner Julie Scales, but shooting BB guns "in your own backyard, that's fine."
Commissioner Dave Carson, who grew up in a hunting community where it was acceptable to store his hunting rifle in his school locker during the day, said he wanted to be careful not to overreact to a one-time incident.
"The park issue is a no-brainer," he said. "But in your own backyard, I want to protect that."
Mayor Dave Eggers suggested addressing the issue with language that just disallowed hunting, instead of trying to list specific weapons.
A law already on Dunedin's books makes it illegal for a person to fire a slingshot, bow, sling or “other similar device” within corporate limits, but BB guns and pellet guns — considered compressed-air guns, not firearms — are not included in the language (Section 50-2).
The proposed ordinance addresses only BB guns.
Two Muscovy ducks were attacked by young men with pellet guns and reportedly killed for food in a neighborhood retention pond between Alamo and Paloma lanes.
The sight of the gun being aimed at ducks alarmed neighbors. When deputies were called to the scene, they could not arrest any of the shooters because the ducks were an unprotected, invasive species, and no laws against firing air guns existed. (Read the full story here.)
The Pinellas County Sheriff's Office reported more than a dozen businesses or private residences were vandalized using pellet guns, marbles or BB guns from early August to mid-November. A student was also attacked with a BB gun near a school crossing at Dunedin Highland Middle School last year.
The Public Safety Committee is made up of citizens, many of whom are former law enforcement officers.
The proposed ordinance with language restricting BB gun use in all public areas will receive public comment for the final time at the next city commission meeting May 3.