Fradette says shooting in self-defense in city shouldn't net a fine
By Paul Srubas
City Council President Chad Fradette thinks it's not right that a person could be fined $700 or more for firing a gun in Green Bay, even if the person fired in self-defense.
Fradette brought the matter Wednesday to the city's Protection & Welfare Committee, on which he serves.
Assistant City Attorney Jon Nitti said a person who shoots someone in self-defense and then is acquitted in circuit court would not be fined under the city's ordinance, which forbids people from discharging firearms in the city limits except under certain special circumstances.
"The only time you'll have this come forth is if they're charged, and it would be up to a jury to determine whether it was a valid claim of self-defense."
Fradette said he was aware of the self-defense provisions of state homicide laws but said he was bothered by the idea that the person technically would still be in violation of a city ordinance.
"I know this administration (of the police department) wouldn't issue a ticket, but the next one could, and I have a problem with that," Fradette said.
Even firing a gun in the air to scare off an assailant could be in violation of the ordinance, Fradette said.
Capt. Bill Galvin of the Green Bay Police Department said the ordinance probably was intended to target people who were illegally hunting or target practicing in the city limits.
He spoke of a case, for example, in which a pet owner shot at a wild bird that was attacking his dog.
He also spoke of a case in which some teenagers set up a target range in their basement.
In some cases, the ordinance wouldn't be needed, because other laws could come into play, he said. Someone shooting a gun into the air, for example, could be charged with endangering safety, he said.
Nitti said he would like to explore possible legal ramifications of eliminating the provision of the ordinance.
The committee directed Nitti and Galvin to research the issue and bring it back when the committee meets again in two weeks.