WHEATLAND – In the most recent Wheatland Town Council meeting held Sept. 28 at 5 p.m. an item on the workshop agenda addressed the questions people were asking and the rumors that were being circulated as to Ordinance 833. Approximately 40 people showed up at the workshop to voice their concerns.
The topic of most interest to people in attendance was Ordinance 833 which was an ordinance to amend Wheatland town codes 9.05.090 and 9.05.100 concerning discharge and possession of firearms within the town of Wheatland.
In Mayor Brandon Graves’ opening comments, he mentioned that he hadn’t seen the room as full as it was on the night that the workshop was held.
“I think if we clear the air and give a general understanding of what’s trying to transpire here, it may limit a lot of comments and concerns,” Graves said. “We have a law on the books in the town of Wheatland that we deemed as mayor and council as ‘not correct.’ It’s outdated and needed revision. The process to do that then is to repeal this ordinance or write a new ordinance and then do away with the old.”
The mayor mentioned that they tried the process with Ordinance 833 and that there were things that he was uncomfortable with being a Second Amendment supporter and a gun owner. He also asked that the public discuss changes to the proposed ordinance and discuss what the desired outcome would be rather than taking the time to criticize the content as is.
“It’s not law, it’s not passed. It’s a work in progress,” Graves said. “I think there’s been some unnecessary muddying of the waters with social media and word-of-mouth that have been misinterpreted and twisted and a lot of things I hope we can dispel tonight.”
He then said that he invited input in getting the ordinance right to cover all the bases of the concerns of the citizens.
Councilman Tony Montoya spoke up and explained how an ordinance works.
“An ordinance takes three readings,” Montoya said. “That is 90 days for that ordinance to be in effect. In that time, we can take things out, we can add things as we deem necessary. There’re things in this ordinance that we don’t like and we are going to take that out of there. All we wanted to do was mirror the State law as it states right now. Our old ordinance didn’t do that. Basically, it said, ‘if you carried on the streets of Wheatland, you were in violation of law.”
Montoya stated that people needed to rest assured that the council was not trying to take guns away from the people and said it was the last thing they’d ever want to do.
Further explanations but the council informed the people about the legal draft that was drawn up by city attorney Doug Weaver which was not law, but simply a draft or a starting point from which to work from. They also told those in attendance that all councilmen approved the draft on the first reading simply to avoid the ordinance being scrapped altogether. The yes votes just insured that the ordinance could be worked and changed and finetuned into the second and third readings.
The workshop was created to create a better ordinance. After the ordinance was reworked and reworded, the next reading would be set to fine tune it further if needed.
Representative Jeremy Haroldson who spoke at the workshop said that originally it was a citizen and not a council member who first saw the error between the current ordinance and the discrepancy it posed when side by side with state law.
“I will say this,” said Haroldson. “833 is not what we want. After talking with Mayor Graves and also councilman Montoya, I said that I think the best thing we can do is let them do their job, legislatively speaking and then we should open it up for conversation. (This council) is your representation and you elected them to represent you for the town of Wheatland, and so I think we should allow them to do their job.”
Haroldson also pointed out that one person or one council’s idea cannot become instant law. The process takes time and discussion and needs to be walked through the process with input and discussion.
He also bottom-lined the issue with a very powerful illustration telling people that he was an advocate for “open carry” and has done so for months. In doing so, he was breaking the law that was set up in Wheatland saying that he could not open carry in the town. He wasn’t breaking a state statute, but a local statute because of the ordinance that the town currently has on the books. The ordinance that must be changed, again, to mirror state statutes.
“What 833 did was add a lot more to that than we wanted,” Haroldson said. “So, we can all bring recommendations, but I think we should watch them draft their next draft and do their work and then we can talk about it. This was all intended to extend your freedoms, not take them away.”
The council then proceeded to begin to rework the previous draft and proposed that as they were finished refining and improving the current ordinance, the new proposed amendment would be put forth for the public and either another council workshop could be held or discussion could be heard at the next council meeting.
At this point the council is reworking the original draft amendment that was created and when it is completed it will be available for the public to review.
The meeting in its entirety can be seen on YouTube at: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=N_XdP8YkLU0