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No More Regulation For Target Shooting Ranges

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.

Nicholas Barzetti

55 Flat Swamp Road, Newtown                  May 14, 2013

More stories like this: guns, Second Amendment, shooting range ordinance

Comments

response to cshaw1

The first hand story that I was told did not say that there was an injury, but just that roofer was hit on the wrist while wearing work gloves and that the kinetic energy of the bullet was disipated enough so that there was not an injury. That does not change the fact that he was struck by a bullet that came from a neighbors property.

As far as tanerite goes I am just recounting the statements of several people at some of the ordinance meetings that stated that tanerite is used on home target ranges in Newtown. None of what I said was second hand hearsay but came directly from people involved.

Gun Ownership Requires Rigorous Regulation

Mr. Barzetti claims: "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." Recent tragedies prove the opposite. Recently it seems that children who discover loaded weapons in the house use them to kill other children. Namely the 4/8/13 NJ shooting of a 6 year old boy by a four year old neighbor (the gun belonged to the 4 year old's father...it was just lying around the house), and the 5/3/13 Kentucky shooting of a 2 year old girl by her 5 year old brother using a gun given to him by his parents for his birthday (the gun was leaning in the corner of the family home). I would wager that both sets of parents considered themselves "responsible" gun owners. Sadly, these tragedies prove otherwise.

Regulations absolutely must be in place to protect the rights of those who don't share your enthusiasm for unfettered gun ownership and use. Moreover, they are needed to protect the rights and lives of innocent children.

Tracy Fiore
19 Taunton Lake Drive

Two Comments

First, as to the roofer hit by a ricochet.
There is some dispute as to whether this happened or not. last week there was a letter talking about this incident. the letter (and the Bee's Police reports) state there were "no injuries" Either the roofer, the homeowner or the investigating police officer is lying. It should be easy to see. This story seems to be continually changing. If the Bee or Newtown Police cannot get to the bottom of it maybe we should ask an outside agency to investigate.

Second, exploding targets:
I do not think many target shooters use tannerite. In my opinion most will use the regular paper targets. Also the use of tannerite may be illegal under existing state explosives laws as the use and mixture may be considered an explosive. the Bureau of the State Fire Marshal is dealing with this. I will concede however that any firearm discharge may be considered noisy. And if you shoot into a propane tank it will not explode, just vent. That used to be a recognized method of dealing with propane tank fires years ago.

Hyperbole and exaggeration

Much of what Mr. Barzetti points out it his letter is quite true. Newtown has had a gun culture of hunting and recreational shooting since 1711. Many residents who practice target shooting do so into a pile of dirt. There is a noise issue. Target shooting is a valid form of practice to ensure good skills when hunting so as to not maim deer and other animals. The reality pretty much ends there and the balance of his statements and conclusions are either incorrect or fail to take into account the totality of facts about this issue.

1) "There has never been and incident of a neighbor getting shot from a neighbor target shooting" While I don't pretend to know the entire history of target shooting since 1711 in Newtown I do know for a fact that a roofer was hit by a ricochet bullet from target shooting while working on a roof this past year. 1711 and 2013 are also quite different times and Newtown is quite a different place. The rural community of 1711 with very small population of well under 2000 and huge tracts of land is now a suburban community of over 27,000 with many neighborhoods with homes in close proximity to each other, with children outside playing in their yards. As the demographics of a community evolve so do the public safety concerns and needs of that community. Should all of our laws in 2013 remain the same as they were in 1711? If they did I am certain that you would not be very happy about what that would reflect in our everyday lives.

2) Many residents do practice safe target shooting and are quite vigilant in making sure to practice and observe high standards of gun safety. Does that mean that all residents do? Clearly not as evidenced by the shooting of a roofer and the other numerous complaints files by residents of bullets straying onto their property and hitting their trees and homes. Also is is clear that all target shooters do not in fact use dirt berms and back stops. Please tell me how a regulation that requires anyone who target shoots to abide by NRA safety guidelines for setting up a safe range including the use of back stops and berms would infringe on your rights? I'm sorry if we cannot trust that all residents will act safely and responsibly even though the majority will. A regulation requiring a safe range infringes or your rights in no way.

3) There is absolutely a noise issue with shooting ranges. This issue is two fold. First there is the use of both tanerite(exploding targets) as well as reports of shooters blowing up propane tanks for shooting fun. There really is no place for explosions set off by private citizens in our town for recreation. Not only is this an issue of noise but also one of safety. There is also a noise issue when it comes to continuous shooting for hours on end. People have a right to feel safe and secure in their homes and on their property. No one feels threatened by the sound of a lawn mower or weed wacker and while some people are too sensitive to sounds their is a legitimate concern when it comes to the continuous sound of gun fire for hours on end.

4) The statement that there are thousands of pistol permit holders in Newtown is also a bit of an exaggeration. As of March of 2013 there were 1621 permit holder in Newtown which is less than 6% of the population. Also holding a permit does not mean that you have a handgun, just that you legally can.

No one wants your guns and no one wants to stop you from practicing shooting or enjoying your recreational pleasures. Characterizing people as anti-gun is both wrong and inflamatory. Being for safe usage, safe storage, safe setup of a range, making sure that those who should not have a gun do not is not anti-gun but pro-safety. Just because people want to be sure that safety issues are addressed does not make them anti-gun. This is even more obvious when you see many gun owners standing up for gun safety. Kind of hard to be anti -gun and then go out and enjoy the use of your guns. What they do want to be confident that their children can play out doors without getting shot. They want to know that explosions are not being set off by their neighbors. They would like to be able to safely enjoy their homes and property just like you. Your rights to shoot your guns however and whenever you like without any regulation does not trump your neighbors rights. There needs to be a balance struck. The current ordinance has language that makes it is very confusing and unenforceable. There is no reason that I have heard put forth for not having safety guidelines in place for home shooting ranges. Should we wait till someone is shot or worse in their homes to actually do something or should we require that anyone who want to target shoot at their homes actually abides by the same safety protocols that you say that you do and I have absolutely no reason to think that you don't and not take you at your word. We all do need to talk to each other as neighbors and respect each other, but at the same time that does not preclude our town from making sure that it has guidelines and ordinances in place to ensure that public safety is addressed.

Respectfully,
David Stowe
15 Patricia Lane

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