Thank God for judges. When emotions get the better of everyone, we can count on them to apply the calming salve of rationality.
That’s what we hope, at least, will be the case with Mckenzie Ussery, a Grovetown man who is facing a hefty fine for shooting a BB gun in his backyard Dec. 19.
Let’s be clear: It appears the authorities all did the right things in this incident – up to a point.
When a staffer of the Columbia County Alternative School saw what she believed was a man with a weapon behind their campus, just a few days after the horrific Sandy Hook Elementary shooting, school personnel were absolutely right to call 911.
When Grovetown Public Safety officers received that call, they were entirely correct to swarm Ussery’s home.
But: When they discovered that there was nothing more threatening than a somewhat-oblivious 19-year-old testing an old BB gun in the yard of the home he’d moved into that very day, they should have stood down, told him to be more aware that his yard backed up to a school, and to have a nice day. Point made, point taken, lesson likely learned.
Instead, they slapped Ussery with a $291 ticket – for discharging a “firearm” within city limits.
This is where anyone with the slightest smattering of commonsense should say, “You have got to be kidding.” Certainly, we expect Grovetown’s Municipal Court judge will share that view. Even the director of the city’s Public Safety Department admits they already were looking at amending the firearms ordinance to remove BB guns; the judge should encourage it.
It is indisputable that school personnel should react with the utmost caution to any hint of danger, especially in such times of heightened alerts. Police should act accordingly, and Grovetown’s cops deserve praise for their quick response.
But they also should acknowledge when enough is enough. Drop the fine – and give Ussery back his BB gun.