By Terry Lehmann – It was a packed courtroom Monday at Parker County Commissioner’s Court. Every bench was full; people were standing in the back of the room and on the side. The overflow of people gathered around the door to get a chance to hear what was being said. The issue was rescinding the gun ordinance put in place a few years ago.
Dusty Renfro brought this issue back to the court after visiting Normandy and realizing the ordinance was another freedom that was fought that was taken away. The freedom of using one’s property in a safe manner and the right to bear arms, even if only to shoot at targets is not to be taken lightly. Commissioner Renfro’s concern was the government becoming too involved in our personal lives and not letting personal responsibility guide our actions and our laws.
He and Commissioner John Roth also spoke of the ordinance being unenforceable. While there have been 1300 calls made in the county about gunfire, not one citation or warning has been written. As Sheriff Fowler had said in the past, deputies are not surveyors.
Commissioner Renfro also pointed out that this seemed to be an HOA problem and not a problem that was countywide. He pointed out that this ordinance was put in place because Remuda Ranch HOA was trying to get back at one resident. Although Judge Mark Riley tried to dispute that thought, a quick demonstration made it all clear. Commissioner Renfro asked for a show of hands of people who were there in support of the gun ordinance. Quickly eight hands shot up in the air. He then asked how many of the supporters of the gun ordinance were NOT from Remuda Ranch. Not one hand was raised.
One by one citizens of Parker County stepped up to the microphone. The first was Frank Hartman, former treasurer of the Remuda Ranch board. He made claims that other counties had passed this ordinance after people had been shot by stray bullets. He claimed that one county had passed the ordinance because a child was shot while jumping on a trampoline. Commissioner Roth produced a letter from the sheriff of that county stating that both landowners had over ten acres so the ordinance would not have prevented the accident.
Several citizens who were against the ordinance stepped forward and voiced their opposition. They expressed the lack of study that went into the passing of the ordinance, the unenforceable nature of the ordinance, the taking away of property rights and gun rights and the concern that it could be amended in the future from ten acres to five acres at the whim of the court. Each person spoke with facts and clarity. They offered the court suggestions such as rewriting the ordinance or allowing an exemption for people with Concealed Handgun Licenses.
Each citizen who wanted to speak had a chance to speak, but it was all an act of futility. A motion to keep the ordinance was made by Commissioner George Conley and seconded by Commissioner Craig Peacock. Commissioner Peacock stated he didn’t want to rescind the ordinance because he didn’t know how his constituents felt about it. Where has he been for the last few years? Did he not listen to the court today? It was about 30 people for rescinding the vote vs 8 Remuda Ranch residents who wanted to keep the ordinance (A note here that there were 6 Remuda Ranch residents there in court who wanted the ordinance rescinded).
The vote was cast and Judge Riley, Commissioner Peacock and Commissioner Conley voted to keep the ordinance. Commissioner Roth and Commissioner Renfro voted to rescind the ordinance.
Since many in the county feel these three Commissioners are not listening to them, the most important votes will take place between now and May 29th. That is when the elections of two Commissioners will take place. John Roth is not running for his place. George Conley is running against Jon Moffit for his precinct. It is time that voters become very aware of what the candidates that will become commissioners stand for. It is time to use your vote at the ballot box to get commissioners on the court who will not give a deaf ear to the citizens of Parker County.