Abilene group wants change: they say hunters are too close to their homes

ABILENE, Texas (KTAB) – When you arrive home at the end of a long day, you may want to kick back and relax. Some Abilenians are finding that to be a bit difficult, because they say hunters are a bit too close to their homes for comfort. They’re looking to do something about it, but not everyone feels the same way.

Following the July 25th city council meeting, it seemed as though the push to change local ordinances to quiet things down may have stopped dead. The council decided that they weren’t in favor of making any changes, with some council members appealing to the opposing sides to work out their differences without rewriting the books.

Justin Wallace spearheaded the movement, which he says came out of a difficulty finding who owns the land adjacent to his where hunters had started to gather. He says even though the ordinance change fell through, he’s not done just yet.

“Until we actually come to a resolution, I intend to force an initiative on the ballot and let the people of the city vote on it”, said Wallace.

To do that, he’ll need to collect an estimated 700 signatures, which will be enough to bring the item to a vote.

As the ordinance stands, shooting isn’t allowed inside city limits, although there are some exceptions. Shotguns are allowed. You’re also in the clear if you’re on land that comes to ten acres or more, and you’re 150 feet from an occupied building. That exception is what Wallace and his neighbors take exception to, and they called for the acreage and distance requirements to be bumped up.

“Most of our sister cities have banned hunting completely within city limits, and the ones that haven’t are much more restrictive”, explained Wallace. “They require at least 50 acres and a 300 foot standoff just with shotguns. But most of them have banned it completely.” 

Wallace cites safety concerns, as well as general quality of life issues as his primary reasons for wanting change: “I’ve spoken to several members of the community, like me, who are former veterans suffering from PTSD. They can’t even go outside during duck or dove season. Even inside it’s still extremely loud.”

Dale Morrison doesn’t own the land in question, but he is a landowner and developer, and he stands against making any changes.

“A person who wants to go hunting in the city limits that has land has the right to do that. There’s state laws and city laws of the distance and the acreage. I support what we have right now”, said Morrison.

Morrison goes on to say the concerns are unfounded: “The police chief says there has been some calls and shots in Abilene, but in all these years, back 15, 20 years, he says there’s never been a complaint he noticed of anybody hitting a house, or breaking out a window, or anything like that.”

Morrison isn’t disregarding Wallace, however. In fact, the two sat down to discuss other options, with both saying the other remained very civil, despite their disagreement.

“Love our neighbor as ourself, that’s my position”, said Morrison. “That still doesn’t mean I give my rights away. But I did meet with him, had a glass of tea, and we had a good discussion.”

Wallace has started a Facebook group, Abilene Resident Rights to spread the word as he collects signatures to force a vote. Morrison says if the vote does come, he’ll lobby for the ordinance to stay unchanged.

While the two find themselves on opposite sides of the issue, they do find some common ground. Both say they support the Second Amendment, and both agree that they just can’t quite come to an agreement about the ordinance.

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