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AMMUNITION UPROAR 5-7-14 LMS

The city’s Public Safety Team has been assigned the job of researching the issue of ammunition businesses being allowed in residential areas. It will also research all associated state and federal laws regarding ammunition related regulations.

A request for a business permit in early May and subsequent questions concerning manufacture and sale of ammunition devolved into a public misconception that the city was trying to slip a ban on ammunition and components into the city Development Code. A group of angry citizens expressed their outrage at the May 7 meeting of the Salmon City Council. Their comments ranged from why a new 214 page code is needed at all to demands for abolishment of the City Planning and Zoning Commission because it is creating barriers to local business development.

The comments also included statements from two residents, Steve Harris and Alex Alexander, who have backgrounds of extensive munitions expertise. They both said that gun powder itself is not an explosive material and is not a hazard. Other speakers said it would be senseless to place a special mention of ammunition in the Development Code since all explosive materials are already regulated by the ATF (Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco and Firearms.) The 214 pages of Development Code regulations were called ‘empire building’ and suspicions were voiced that the ammunition issue is based on political motivations rather than safety concerns.

The public comments came after the council had officially referred the subject to the Safety Team.

In hopes of clarification City Clerk Mary Benton explained how the whole issue began. She said she had a request for a home-based city business license and that the product of the business would be the manufacture and shipment of ammunition. The home is situated in a residential area. She quoted the applicant as saying he has a federal permit and that he has found from living in other areas that he can do whatever he wants in a city because cities don’t want to spend the money to fight him. He said that no state permit was needed.

Benton called the ATF and was told that a federal permit is obtained first then that application is sent to the state. The state performs background checks and either approves or denies the permit.

Benton said at that point she suggested that the city’s business license process be reworked to reflect the state and federal permits being made available to the city before any business license is issued. Benton said, “Were we trying to micro manage? No. Were we trying to say, ‘No you can’t have this in your residence?’ No. I just want to make sure they actually have the permits that are required before I give them a city business license.” She said she doesn’t know how that was blown up into the city’s not allowing firearms or ammunition.

At the last workshop on the Development Code, because of the Clerk’s Office business permit question, City Planner Dan Maiyo submitted a draft proposal to insert a segment into the code related to ammunition and explosives regulations. Benton and the council decided the draft should be brought before an open council meeting before making any decision on whether or not to make it part of the code.

City Attorney Fred Snook assured those in attendance that there is no special mention of anything related to ammunition in the Development Code and that the council has not made any decisions on the issue. He said it was just something that came up at the end of the last Development Code work session. Snook said the council, following proper procedure, questioned which city committee should research the subject and decided it would be the Safety Team. He said based on its research the team will make a recommendation to the council on what if anything needs to be done.

Mayor Leo Marshall thanked the speakers for the evening’s input and encouraged them to attend the May 14 Safety Team meeting. That meeting will begin at 5:15 PM in the Salmon Valley Center meeting room.


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