The hostility towards gun owners and the Second Amendment in general is so bad among the political class in New Jersey that I’m always a little shocked to see any new firearms-related business setting up shop in the Garden State. Thankfully, the animosity on display from Gov. Phil Murphy on down hasn’t dissuaded the owners of High Caliber Ordnance from building out a retail location in the town of Somerville, and despite objections from a handful of residents and some wishy-washy comments from the mayor, it looks like the store will soon be open for business.
The stated objection to the gun store is its location; a building about a quarter-mile from an elementary school. On Tuesday night, several anti-gunners showed up at the borough council meeting to demand something be done, but the mayor says his hands are tied.
Before hearing the residents’ concerns about the shop, Mayor Brian Gallagher said the borough cannot stop the opening because a “sporting goods” store, under which the shop is classified, is allowed in the zone.
“We can’t change that now,” he said.
Gallagher reiterated the goal he expressed in his State of the Borough Address on New Year’s Day for the Borough Council and Planning Board to undertake a comprehensive review of zoning, so it is more “appropriate.”
As long as the gun shop follows Somerville’s ordinances and complies with state and federal laws, it can open, Gallagher said.
If the borough took any action, he said, it would “create a very bad precedent” and lead to litigation “in which we would have no success.”
I’m glad to see the mayor acknowledging that reality, even if the anti-gunners in town won’t do the same.
As for the objections over the location, the mayor pointed out that there’s a liquor store located even closer to the elementary school than High Caliber Ordnance’s building, a restaurant that serves alcohol across the street from where the gun shop will be doing business, and the borough council has given the thumbs up for a cannabis retailer to open its doors nearby as well. None of those businesses have drawn the ire of the locals who came out on Tuesday night. No, their objections seem to revolve solely around the store that will help local residents exercise their Second Amendment rights.
“Our children do not need to be exposed or desensitized to weapons and ammunition simply by walking home from school,” said resident Kate Ambrose.
A teacher, Ambrose added that “opening a gun shop does not reflect the values of our community and town.”
The gun shop “gives our town not a look I think we should have,” said resident Megan Andrews.
If allowing a gun shop in town doesn’t “reflect the values of the community”, then I’d say that community needs a refresher course on the Bill of Rights. Honestly, I’m far more concerned about children in Somerville being exposed to Ambrose’s anti-gun ideology in the classroom than I am about kids walking past a gun shop on their way home from school.
If Ambrose is a teacher she should know that kids these days are exposed to things much worse than a federally licensed firearms dealer just by using social media. Besides, we’re talking about something that isn’t merely legal but explicitly protected by the Bill of Rights. Why should a business like High Caliber Ordnance be forced to open in some out-of-the-way location in an industrial zone or be banned from the town outright? Just as Somerville residents have every right to keep and bear arms, the owners of the gun store have every right to establish their business in a commercial district, no matter how much Ambrose and others want to denormalize and stigmatize gun ownership.