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Committee Struggles Over Firearms Ordinance Wording

Precise wording is seen as important for making the ordinance enforceable.

If the Legislative Council’s Ordinance Committee’s aim is true, they will end up with a town ordinance that allows local police to enforce rules similar to the state’s hunting regulations, but applicable to target shooting as well.

But that will require wording that hits the bull’s-eye, which the committee struggled over at its meeting Wednesday.

Committee members spent about 10 minutes discussing a minor wording change suggested by Police Chief Michael Kehoe to make it clear that the ordinance would prohibit shooting within 500 feet of any building housing people or domesticated animals without the written permission of the building owners.

The problem with Kehoe’s suggested wording, for some committee members, was it left open to interpretation exactly which building owners needed to give permission.

At another point, the committee members spent several minutes hashing over whether they should replace “hunting weapon” with different wording to make it clear the intention of the ordinance was to apply to all firearms, not simply those used for hunting.

The reason “hunting weapon” appeared in the draft was because that is the exact wording that appears in the state hunting regulations.

But the new direction of the committee has satisfied local gun owners. About 20 gun owners attended the meeting and they were far less spirited than the 75 or so who turned out in September to voice their opposition to a previous version of the proposed ordinance that they saw as too restrictive.

Lawyer Andrew Buzzi, a member of the Fairfield County Fish and Game Club, told the committee that he and other local sportsmen appreciate the work that the committee has done to improve the ordinance over the other version.

The original version was proposed by the Newtown Police Commission to address complaints that the police and the first selectman’s office have received over the years from residents concerned about neighbors shooting nearby.

That proposal would have restricted target shooting on private property without the prior permission of the police chief.

Committee Chairman Mary Ann Jacob said she would forward the new wording to Kehoe and the town attorney for their opinions.

The committee will take a break over the holidays and hold its next meeting on the ordinance on Jan. 9, 2013.

Paul Alexander November 15, 2012 at 01:50 PM
This is an entirely flawed process. Forget that this is a "gun" ordinance proposal. It could be ANY ordinance proposal and the PROCESS of drafting the ordinance would still be flawed. Why on earth is the Chief of Police even involved in the drafting process? HIS job is to enforce what the town legislators put on the books, not INFLUENCE what the legislators put on the books. The police chief needs to be reminded that he is NOT an elected official and the Legislative Council needs to stop deferring their authority to an unelected law enforcement officer.
tiredofthehypocrisy November 15, 2012 at 02:01 PM
MORE gun control? Isn't Hillary Clinton and The Dictator trying to give control to the United Nations, bad enough? Has there actually been a shooting or any kind of accident to warrant this? What WASP filed a complaint? What snooty housewife raised attention to something that's never even been a problem before? This is what happens when government intercedes too much. We get confusion, wasted time, more and more restrictions against our individual freedoms and pompous bureaucrats who've never even handled a gun in their lives, deciding our fate over gun control.
Veritas vos liberabit November 15, 2012 at 02:39 PM
I agree Rasmussen, Newtown should get with the program and be more like Florida. It's never to early to teach your kids how to blast away a stranger. http://news.yahoo.com/blogs/sideshow/florida-gun-range-lets-customers-shoot-other-214043618.html
Paul Alexander November 15, 2012 at 03:20 PM
Sully, The Yahoo article you linked to was about empowering people to defend themselves…especially women. “Kaplan says a growing percentage of his visitors are women who show up to improve their personal safety skills and knowledge.” "Most women walk out of here very empowered, and that's the key." Are you against that? Familiarity dispels fear. There is too much irrational gun fear in Connecticut, which is laughable considering the state’s colonial roots. Bill Petit FAILED his family and Jennifer Petit FAILED her daughters because they were both unprepared to defend themselves from the two psychopaths who killed them. Responsible gun ownership and use needs to be liberalized in Connecticut, not restricted. Encourage the responsible use of firearms. Hammer the irresponsible use of firearms. That seems balanced to me. What is NOT balanced is the broad based restrictions found in gun fearing states like CT.
Paul Alexander November 15, 2012 at 03:21 PM
Shifting gears a bit Sully… I have great faith that underneath your bitter crank of a shell, you actually have the brain power to contribute and comment meaningfully on The Patch rather than just snipe in response to me and anyone else here who you aspire to be more like. ;) I challenge you to pick any article and put together a compelling argument for against the position. I know you can do it. Release your inner curmudgeon and start contributing!!!
Veritas vos liberabit November 15, 2012 at 03:45 PM
No need to start with your personal attacks Rasmussen, I realize it's hard after your GIDDY pre-election euphoria. Suppose you think that there should be no restrictions on unlimited weapons purchasing by insane folks also... http://abcnews.go.com/US/colorado-movie-theater-shooting-suspect-bought-guns-6000/story?id=16817842#.UKUMyIfLTzo
John N Cortese November 15, 2012 at 07:03 PM
Our Legislative Council has the responsibility to seek out knowledgeable information from qualified professionals. Our Chief of Police is not only qualified to give professional advice on this specific piece of legislation but it is the Legislative Council responsibility to seek it. This is no different then having our Fire Chief involved with establishing fire codes or an environmental expert's advice when it involves environmental issues or an independent attorney for legal advise. I think it is an intelligent move for our Legislative Council to involve our Chief of Police and I encourage them to continue to seek expert advice in specific areas outside their area of expertise. Leadership is not necessarily knowing all the answers but rather knowing where to get the answers. If someone is not satisfied with our Legislative Council’s approach of seeking out expert advice before they make a decision then they can always express their opinion at the ballet box. Kudos to our legislative Council.
Lyle Murphy November 16, 2012 at 02:34 PM
The police chief shouldn't be involved in the legislation of laws. His job is to uphold the laws we the people put in place. He should be focused on the drug dealers down at the alpine hotel, which when the community asked for help they were told to 'form a neighborhood watch'.
Lyle Murphy November 16, 2012 at 02:56 PM
Which I know is a disgruntled statement, but when it comes to the things that are actually plaguing this town ( DRUGS!) we can't come up with a solution. But if someone is target shooting in their backyard safely, we get the whole town together to make a new law up. It's asinine.
Danny Jovanelly November 25, 2012 at 04:58 PM
Does hunting weapons also include my bows and arrows? How about non-hunting weapons like pepper blasters, tasers, stun-guns,etc.? Where can we prepare for a criminal, or a wild/rabid animal attack? When seconds count, the police are only minutes away!

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