12 On Your Side: Man fired up about gun laws

By: Elizabeth Owens Email
By: Elizabeth Owens Email

News 12 at 6 o'clock / Thursday, Jan. 17, 2013

GROVETOWN, Ga. (WRDW) -- A Grovetown man says he was treated like a hardened criminal when officers confronted him about firing a BB gun in his backyard. He says he didn't realize firing a BB gun in the city was illegal. News 12 is On Your Side breaking down gun laws in the CSRA.

Mckenzie Ussery, 19, says he had no clue it was illegal for him to shoot his childhood toy in his backyard. He now faces a whopping $291 fine.

"It could go towards rent bills, I mean my daughter. Babies are expensive," the young father said.

A few weeks ago, Ussery decided to shoot off his old BB gun in his back yard.

"I came out on my back porch and I shot at the cup in the tree three times," he said.

"Next thing I know I hear beating on my windows and on side of my house," he said.

It was Grovetown police.

"It was really crazy. I didn't know a BB gun was against the law," Ussery said.

It is against the law to fire an air-powered gun within the city limits of Grovetown. The ordinance bans any guns that use compressed air to fire, which includes BB and paintball guns.

Usery was fined nearly $300 for breaking the ordinance.

"You got to look at the situation. You got to look at the reckless conduct," said Chief Gary Owens with the Grovetown Police Department.

He says Ussery not only broke the law but put a school on lockdown. An alternative school sits about football field directly behind Ussery's home. Someone there saw him and called 911.

"If we didn't act on that situation, what would be the comments from the citizens or the people that have children in our school system?" the chief said.

Grovetown isn't the only city that bans BB and paintball guns.

Cities that ban shooting firearms and air-powered guns:

  • Grovetown
  • Waynesboro
  • Harlem
  • Edgefield
  • Aiken

Cities that ban shooting firearms but allow air-powered guns:

  • Jackson
  • North Augusta
  • Johnston

Cities that allow the firing of firearms and air-powered guns as long as in accordance to state law:

  • Augusta
  • Hephzibah

Most counties adopt the state gun laws. In Georgia, that means you can't fire within 50 feet of a public road. In South Carolina, you can't shoot at a car or building. In both states, you aren't allowed to point a gun at a person.

"I felt like I was being treated like a hardened criminal or something," Ussery said.

He says he will fight the ticket in court.

Ussery fired the BB gun just five days after the Sandy Hook tragedy.

"Yeah that incident involved a BB gun, thank goodness that is all that it was," Owens said.

Click here to read your state's gun law.


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