Council elects to leave city ‘weapons discharge’ laws alone
Rural Cloquet residents Dorin Langley and David Olson left Tuesday's Cloquet City Council work session much happier than when they arrived. Both men attended the meeting out of concern that the city was going to pass a law restricting the dischar...
Rural Cloquet residents Dorin Langley and David Olson left Tuesday’s Cloquet City Council work session much happier than when they arrived.
Both men attended the meeting out of concern that the city was going to pass a law restricting the discharge of weapons in rural Cloquet, after an incident where a person (or persons) in the northern part of the county was target shooting and a bullet ended up lodging in another person’s residence.
“It was serious enough someone could have gotten killed,” pointed out Mayor Bruce Ahlgren during the work session discussion.
The mayor was not, however, in favor of changing current city code, which already prohibits the discharge of firearms inside the more densely populated center of Cloquet.
“This [proposed change] would really only apply to the rural areas like North Cloquet Road, Moorhead Road, the Antus Addition,” Ahlgren said, noting that “You’re not going to stop stupid” by passing more stringent laws.
Olson, who owns 15 acres of land and has been shooting target practice for years on his land, agreed with Ahlgren, noting that it’s all a question of “brain matter,” or common sense.
The discussion swung pretty quickly in favor of leaving the city’s laws on the matter untouched, especially after City Administrator Brian Fritsinger explained that City Attorney Frank Yetka had drafted a conceptual ordinance that would have required rural residents to get permission from police if they were going to do any target shooting. However, he added, Yetka had also spoken with the tribal attorney for the Fond du Lac Band of Lake Superior Chippewa, who said the Band would ask to be exempt from any such regulations.
Cloquet Police Chief Steve Stracek was also not in favor of any change to the city code, pointing out that of five incidents reported over the past year, four resulted in criminal charges that were higher than any city ordinance would be.
Councilor Steve Langley pointed out that Cloquet gets an average of five calls a year versus 100 per year on the Fond du Lac Reservation and wondered how effective any new law would be if the reservation opted out anyway.
In the end, no one argued in favor of changing city code … yet.
“I’d hate to change the rural culture out there because of one incident,” Councilor Kerry Kolodge said.
Fritsinger cautioned that the issue will likely resurface as Cloquet’s rural areas become more densely populated.
In other matters Tuesday, Mayor Ahlgren and the City Council:
- Continued budget discussions, with the goal of voting on a preliminary levy and budget at the next meeting, set for 7 p.m. Sept. 16. (Look for a Pine Journal budget preview in next week’s Pine Journal.)
- Awarded the bid for paving White Pine Trail to Ulland Brothers, Inc.
- Approved a study of projected sanitary sewer flows associated with the Big Lake Area Sanitary Sewer District’s proposed connection to the Cloquet sanitary sewer system. The study would assess the capacity of the Cloquet collection system for the BLASD request or any other future requests.
“There’s a definite long-term benefit to knowing what our system can handle,” Fritsinger said.