December 17, 2007

Explanation of Reporting

For my last entry, an explanation of how I reported the story about the Roseville City Council's decision to ban shooting bows and arrows in most cases is needed.

I found out about the proposed ordinance with help from my instructor. To get enough background to write clearly and intelligently about the city council action, I studied the Roseville city code and the documents pertaining to the proposal. These can all be found at the City of Roseville Web site. The council meeting agendas and minutes are found under the "City Government" tab, on the council's page.

I was not able to attend the meeting where the proposal was debated, but the council provides videos of all meetings.

When I talked to Councilmember Amy Ihlan I was upfront about not having attended the meeting in person, but I was able to ask her questions about the law. I was not able to contact Mayor Craig Klausing for comment.

December 16, 2007

Bows and Arrows in the Backyard

This article was written in November 2007 for my Public Affairs Journalism course at the University of Minnesota.

The Roseville City Council has restricted the use of bows and arrows in the city, but proponents do not think it goes far enough

Even though Councilmember Amy Ihlan proposed the ban, she cast the single vote against the proposed law at the council’s Oct. 15 meeting because she felt it was not a solution to the original problem once it was amended, she said.

Ihlan proposed the new law after a resident who was concerned about neighbors shooting bows and arrows contacted her anonymously, she said.

The new law would have banned the use of bows and arrows on all residential properties. The law as it stood before Oct. 15 only regulated the transportation of bows and arrows and prohibited their use against people.

Mayor Craig Klausing said that the ordinance may unfairly restrict residents who have larger or longer property lots. He said that residents should be able to gain police approval of archery ranges on their own property.

He and council member Tammy Pust amended the law to allow residents to obtain authorization from police to shoot bows and arrows in their backyards.

The law that was passed by the council states that it is unlawful to shoot a bow and arrow except in a school program that is on school grounds and supervised by a teacher, in a community class, or on a bow and arrow range that has been approved by the chief of police.

Ihlan said that the law is ambiguous because it still allows residents to shoot bows and arrows on their property with police approval.

“It’s still not clearly illegal,? she said.

Klausing said he trusted the chief of police to make decisions on who should be able to set up archery ranges in their backyards.

The ordinance was first discussed at a council meeting on Sept. 17, 2007. The council looked at similar laws in surrounding suburbs to write the new law, according to the proposal submitted to the council on Oct. 15.

Falcon Heights, a neighboring city, classifies bows and arrows under dangerous weapons in its laws. Ihlan said the resident who contacted her cited that city’s law when she made the complaint.

Ihlan said she would have preferred that Roseville define bows and arrows as dangerous weapons in order to ban their use. She said she was not sure why the mayor objected to an outright ban.

“It struck me as more of a common sense problem,? Ihlan said.

Jean Hopfensperger, a reporter at the Minneapolis Star Tribune, was able to write a more in depth article on the new law later in November.