To the Editor:
Since our town’s incorporation in 1711, there has never been an incident of a person getting shot from a neighbor target shooting, a testament to the safety conscious gun owners of our community. The Legislative Council adopted section 226 on August 7, 1991, the ordinance regulating the discharge of a firearm within a 500 foot radius of any dwelling. Considering target shooting is practiced by shooting into a pile of dirt at a distance of about 20 feet for pistols and roughly 100 feet for rifles, the 500 foot rule is more than adequate. This sport is practiced by hundreds of citizens and is the bedrock of a New England tradition. But now we have afoot a coalition of antigun zealots that are determined to change our time honored right.
Gun advocates want to preserve the rights of hundreds of gun owners enjoying the sport of target and skeet shooting. The issue is not safety but noise, since nobody has ever been injured in town from target shooting. That said, I respectively submit to the ordinance board that we have hearings concerning the incessant noise from every OCD neighbor in town that continually runs their weed whackers, lawn mowers, chain saws, log splitters, leaf blowers, and wood chippers.
Why target shoot? Well, if we can’t sight in our rifles we’re going to have a lot of wounded deer and other game roaming around town. Those with pistol permits (thousands in Newtown) need to practice to become proficient in their use. I would contend that any Newtown police officer would feel much safer responding to a 911 call knowing that the gun owner of that residence is fully trained in the use of their weapon other than a resident that just obtained a carry permit and never practiced with the gun. Children that are raised using firearms are trained to know their danger when used improperly. Such a child visiting a friend and discovering a loaded weapon in the house would know instantly what to do.
Every anti-gun do-gooder always begins their pronouncement, “I have no intention of limiting anyone’s Second Amendment right but….” And there’s the rub. Let’s go from a 500 foot radius to a 2,000 foot radius (effectively eliminating all target shooting in town). Mandate inspections of all ranges with fees and permits. Who determines what a safe range is? Mandate the property owner to be present while shooting, etc. etc. In time they will limit guns to only the quiet ones, like bb guns. BUT, our rights have not been infringed upon; we can still shoot our bb guns. Freedoms are lost incrementally. I suggest if you have a problem with your neighbor, talk to your neighbor and work things out. Newtown residents have been doing that since 1711. Using the heavy hand of government regulation is no way to treat your neighbors or the people that have been target shooting here for decades.
55 Flat Swamp Road, Newtown May 14, 2013