To the Editor:
I am writing on behalf of our neighborhood and as the father of three children in Newtown schools who have lived in Newtown for 11 years.
On any given weekend in the warmer months, our neighborhood will sometimes sound like a war zone. Just this last summer, we experienced “shooting parties” on several occasions which would fill the air of our neighborhood for six to eight hours straight with semi-automatic weapon fire. On many other occasions shooting occurred from multiple makeshift ranges in the area and would go on for hours at a time.
But it was in winter – just three weeks after 12/14 – that the inevitable happened: a person on our street was hit by a stray bullet from a makeshift range nearby. Luckily, the man was not injured, but we all quickly realized that this is not just a quality of life issue as our children deal with 12/14, but it is a serious safety concern and potentially a life or death situation.
Newtown's Firearms Discharge Ordinance permits unrestricted weapons discharge on a shooter's own property or by the property owner's permission with a restriction of only 500 feet from any inhabited dwellings. The house where the man was shot was 1,750 feet from the makeshift range where the bullet was fired. Since no law or ordinance was broken and no injury occurred, our police officers could do nothing about the situation and we simply don't think that is right.
This incident proved to all of us two important points:
First, the 500-foot rule of the existing ordinance is absurdly inadequate to ensure the physical safety of our children. The bullet that hit the man traveled 1,750 feet. It could just as well have hit any of our children playing in our yards or anywhere on our street. As citizens of Newtown we seem to have no rights nor do the police have any recourse to adequately stop or investigate whether or not the shooting is safe or justifiably disturbing the peace. In essence, we are at the mercy of those who wish to shoot.
Secondly, all the parents on our street now experience similar emotional reactions in our children to the sound of the shooting when it occurs. They were already afraid to go outside and play when the air was filled with weapons fire but since 12/14 the mental health of our children is now so fragile, they are now dealing with what they perceive are people shooting and targeting them.
We have done research and have found that there are many other areas in Newtown experiencing a similar situation and may also have serious concerns regarding weapons shooting in their neighborhoods.
If you are experiencing these concerns we are asking you to please contact us at the following email address ParentsforaSaferNewtown@gmail.com to discuss how we can work together to help with this situation in our town.
23 Split Rock Road, Newtown February 20, 2013