Hearing the fears of residents concerned about hearing shots fired by air guns and rifles in rural subdivisions, Comal County Commissioners amended an existing law to also prohibit use of those weapons during their weekly meeting on Thursday.
Texas law allows counties to regulate discharges of weapons on lots 10 acres or smaller located in unincorporated county subdivisions. The county issued a 1987 order prohibiting the firing of firearms, but hadn’t updated it to include discharges of air propelled weapons.
Commissioners unanimously updated the order, which now prohibits discharges of pellets or BBs greater than .177 caliber “by means of compressed air, gas propellant, or a spring.” The revised measure doesn’t apply in weapons discharges by on-duty peace officers, residents protecting themselves and their property, or conducting rodent control.
“You may remember that this came up during the citizen’s comment portion of our meeting a few months ago that indicated air guns are now being used for hunting in some (of the affected areas),” County Judge Sherman Krause said. “This order adds air guns to the order approved in 1987.”
Krause and all four commissioners insisted the order does not in any way to infringe on the rights of gun owners, but protects residents — especially families with children — from the dangers of flying projectiles. The amended order still carries the same punishment for first-time violators, a Class C misdemeanor carrying fines up to $500.
This area’s general deer season begins Nov. 2 and ends Jan. 19. Stormy King, Texas Parks and Wildlife Department’s chief of wildlife enforcement, said this year the state has updated regulations on larger pneumatic firing devices.
“They are designed for bigger game,” King said in September. “Air-powered rifles must be a pre-charged pneumatic capable of firing at least a .30 caliber projectile weighing at least 150 grains with a muzzle velocity of at least 800 feet per second.”
The county’s updated order, which specifies the smaller caliber limit, immediately goes into effect.
“The air gun situation has just become one that some people have exploited,” Precinct 4 Commissioner Jen Crownover said. “Everything remains intact from the old ordinance – protection for person and property and varmint and predator control.”
Commissioners Donna Eccleston, Scott Haag and Kevin Webb said the order only amends and updates the 1987 order with language defining new technology.
Also Thursday, commissioners approved:
• Proclamations recognizing observance of Oct. 14-18 as Chamber of Commerce Week, presented to chamber officials in areas throughout the county; and October as Mediation Awareness Month, presented to Central Texas Dispute Resolution Center officials.
• Amended plats combining lots in portions of the Canyon Lake Forest and The Peninsula at Mystic Shores subdivisions.
• The tax assessor-collector’s monthly collection report for September 2019. The county concluded the 2018 tax year by with a collection rate of 99.22%; slightly improved on 2017’s collection rate of 99.21%.
• Four refunds of ad valorem tax overpayments of $2,500 or more; two mortgage companies combined to receive $24,322.
• Acceptance of a $32,644 State Criminal Alien Assistance Program award, which supports incarcerations of undocumented criminal aliens during the 2018-19 program year. Jail Administrator Bill Jennings said funds will purchase tracking software and accessories at for the new county jail.
• Renewed the county’s interlocal agreements with the Travis County Sheriff’s Combined Auto Theft Task Force and animal control services for the city of Spring Branch;
• A letter authorizing the Texas Commission on Environmental Quality to channel the county’s $281,250 share of air quality planning funds to the Alamo Area Council of Governments, which will develop plans to allocate that funding over the next two years.
• A resolution nominating Bulverde resident John Tyler for another two-year term Comal Appraisal District’s board of directors. Tyler has served on the board since 2018.
• Purchases of staff and inmate filing system equipment for the new county jail ($72,401); a line-item transfer correcting funds previously budgeted for body armor and rifles distributed through the sheriff’s office.
To access Thursday’s meeting video and agenda, visit www.co.comal.tx.us/agenda.htm.