PARIS – The Board of Selectmen voted unanimously Monday evening to appoint an ad-hoc committee to draft a private property safety ordinance.

Appointed to the panel were Troy Ripley, Mike Rolfe, Peter Roy, Ron Fitts, Bruce Hanson, Town Clerk Elizabeth Knox and Police Chief Hartley “Skip” Mowatt.

At the Jan 22 board meeting, Ripley presented a draft ordinance, explaining its purpose was to give private property owners the right to prohibit dangerous weapons from being brought onto their property, but allowing people to have recreational use of it.

Following that meeting, the board voted to hold a straw poll June 12 to see how residents felt about the ordinance. Knox said the vote was 418-253 in favor of it.

At Monday’s meeting, Ripley reiterated several times that the ordinance was not meant to regulate the use of firearms.

Ripley’s daughter, 18-year-old Megan Ripley, was mistakenly shot and killed in 2006 by a hunter firing a .50-caliber single-shot muzzleloading gun, according to investigators at the time. The incident occurred on land near the Ripley’s home on Christian Ridge Road.

“The way this (ordinance) is written, when someone crosses my property line with a dangerous weapon, they need my permission first,” Ripley said. “It’s really that simple. It doesn’t matter if it’s a firearm, a machete, a crossbow, or anything else.”

The ordinance does not include “firearm,” he said after the meeting.

“I’m a big supporter of the Second Amendment,” Ripley said. “I have a concealed gun permit. However, I am just as big of a supporter of the Fifth Amendment, which protects my rights as a private property owner.”

According to the ordinance, violators would be fined between $500 and $5,000 for the first violation and between $1,500 and $5,000 for subsequent violations.

The ordinance would not apply to any law enforcement official, or individuals in pursuit of a wounded animal, retrieval of hunting dogs, or retrieval of farm animals when accompanied by law enforcement officials.

Public property, or property considered public accommodating, would also be exempt from the ordinance.

Ripley asked that the committee be allowed to draft an ordinance that mirrors what Maine requires hunters to do as part of the state’s hunter safety course.

He said he has contacted the state Department of Inland Fisheries and Wildlife and was told the ordinance, as drafted, was not regulating hunting, but instead was regulating private property rights.

He said the state website on hunting safety states that responsible hunters should be getting permission of landowners to hunt on their property, regardless of whether an town ordinance is in place.

“Every hunting license is supposed to show that the hunter took a safety course, and if they did take the course, this is what’s being taught and required,” Ripley said. “Any responsible hunter should already be doing this, so it shouldn’t wind people up too bad.”

The board agreed to swear in the committee members at a future meeting.

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Paris selectmen, from left, Chris Summers, Scott Buffington, Gary Vaughn, John Andrews and Chairman Rusty Brackett, vote Monday evening to appoint an ad-hoc committee to draft a private property safety ordinance. (Matthew Daigle/Sun Journal)


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