Guns elicit a reaction in a great many people, but especially gun owners.
For the record, we tend to be pretty passionate about our Second Amendment rights, and we don’t let anyone infringe on them. We’ll call up congressmen and women, we’ll petition governors and presidents, we’ll hold rallies, we’ll battle for our rights at every single level of government.
That includes local government, which it seems the city of Charlestown, Rhode Island learned the hard way.
Monday’s Town Council meeting was postponed when 170 people packed the council chambers, which has a capacity of 100. Prompted by an item on the agenda that proposed to restrict target shooting to licensed shooting ranges, gun rights advocates, as well as people who support the proposal, were eager to voice their opinions.
“We can’t hold the meeting,” council President Virginia Lee told the crowd. “We will duly advertise, at a larger venue, likely the elementary school, where we can actually hear everybody and give everyone a chance to speak.”
In attendance were the two neighbors at the center of the debate: King’s Factory Road resident JoAnn Stolle and her neighbor, Jim Blackwood. Stolle, who has lived in her home for more than 30 years, is proposing the ordinance and Blackwood and his family, who moved into the neighborhood about a year ago, enjoy target shooting on their property.
In a written presentation which she will make to the council, Stolle, a member of the town’s Zoning Board of Review, cites the potential danger of stray bullets as well as the noise, which she described as “extremely disturbing.” She has also collected 60 signatures on a petition calling for the regulation of target shooting.
“My neighbors moved in last on December 28, three days after Christmas and started blasting away,” she said.
Anthony Dean Stanton, Chief Sachem of the Narragansett Indian Tribe, said he supported Stolle’s initiative.
“It’s in the interest of public safety – Indian and non-Indian,” he said.
Blackwood said safety was also his paramount concern.
“I am 100 percent safe, I feel,” he said, noting that the dispute was probably about more than guns. “Because of the type of person we’re dealing with and the situation that’s going on, it’s other issues besides the shooting, too. There’s control of land. This started before we even bought the property, with the builder, with the developer of the land – there’s issues there. It’s just a control thing.”
There’s likely a bit more to it than just noise or safety. After all, most people who shoot on their land understand what they’re doing and how to minimize any risk to the surrounding neighbors.
Still, I’m not sure what annoys me the most on this one. Is it the idea of being told you can’t shoot on your land or being told that you can’t shoot on your land.
In other words, there’s both a Second Amendment issue and a property rights issue, and property rights are pretty damn important to me even if they’ve been stomped into the dirt by the government for centuries now.
However, it’s heartening to hear that an issue like this elicited such a reaction. I’ll be honest, I’m hoping that most of those who came were pro-gun, but we’ll have to see.