SOUTH JORDAN — Toy guns and bows with arrows may still have a future in South Jordan — just not on city streets.

City Council members are considering passing an ordinance that would restrict use of air guns, replicas of firearms, BB guns and paintball guns in public in response to a growing number of incidents where the fake weapons are mistaken for the real deal.

Initially, the City Council discussed an ordinance that would ban use of the toys in public or on private property — except in special circumstances or with permission from the city's chief of police — but public outcry prompted the council to tame the ordinance to apply mostly to public property.

"I'm much more pleased than I was in the beginning," said Councilwoman Aleta Taylor. "I don't think the first version (of the ordinance) was even constitutional."

The city has had two public forums outside of regular council meetings to gather input about the ordinance. About 20 residents attended the first forum and made suggestions to tone the ordinance down, but only one resident attended the second forum on Tuesday.

Taylor, who put the brakes on the original ordinance, says she thinks the lack of attendance at Tuesday's meeting is a sign that residents are more at peace with the proposed ordinance.

One major change to the ordinance is that it no longer applies to hard-tipped arrows. Another change is that residents can shoot the devices on their own property as long as projectiles from the guns don't enter public property, public rights-of-way, or property belonging to a non-consenting third party.

Residents would need to get written permission from property owners if they use the guns on private property that does not belong to them, if the ordinance is passed. Multiple violations of the ordinance would be grounds for a class B misdemeanor — the same penalty that applies to assault or reckless driving violations, or, in South Jordan, zoning violations of weeds growing higher than six inches.

Though the ordinance would allow residents to use the guns on private property, South Jordan Police Chief Lindsay Shepherd says the new law, if passed, would still cut down on the number of dangerous situations caused most often by teenagers who display the devices in public.

"All of us are happy with where we are right now with the ordinance," Shepherd said.

The council is expected to make a decision on the ordinance in August or September, Taylor said.

Resident Janalee Tobias, a gun rights activist and founder of Women Against Gun Control, says she thinks a class B misdemeanor for violating the rule, if passed, is too harsh. It's up to parents to teach their children to be responsible with the toys, Tobias says, and teenagers' ability to play outside with the fake guns shouldn't be tempered.

"So they're playing with little plastic pellets that sting — what if, instead, they're playing 'Grand Theft Auto' inside — which is worse?" Tobias said. "I don't want to see kids getting killed, but I also don't want to see their fun taken away. Every generation has had their fun."


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