Concerned neighbors and advocates for gun rights sought common ground at a highly meeting ofvthevLegislative Council's Ordinance Committee Tuesday night, convened to continue a conversation on a controversial gun ordinance on Newtown books.
The ordinance allows private shooting as long as guns are fired at least 500 feet from "a building which is occupied by persons or domesticated animals, unless he has within his possession the prior written permission of the owner or occupier thereof or unless he is on property which he owns or leases." An issue in 2012, when five similar meetings were held, the Legislative Council has returned to it at a time when debate on gun laws has become a major issue in Newtown.
In January 2012, residents say, a man was hit by a stray bullet on the roof of a Sandy Hook home. Luciana Deolivera, who said she was the owner of that home, was one of several neighbors arguing the ordinance had to change.
"In the past few years, we have seen the level of shooting increasingly intensely in our areas," said Deolivera. "Sometimes it lasts for many hours, with hundreds and hundreds of shots fired."
Resident Andrew Buzzi, a member of the Newtown Fish and Game Club, emphasized that shooting sports -- including hunting and target shooting -- are safer than other seemingly innocuous sports. He worried the Dec. 14 Sandy Hook Elementary School shooting could cloud judgment on the issue.
In his concluding remarks, he asked audience members who agreed with him to raise their hands. Many in the crowd did. (See video.)
Like many in the crowd, Newtown resident Anthony Mason came to oppose changing the gun ordinance.
"Obviously, shooting at two in the morning, which many people are upset about -- that shouldn't be happening," he told Patch. "But I feel as a right, as a taxpayer ... If you have the land, and you have 500 feet, as the state law says, you should be able to shoot on your own property."
While Mason said he felt the measure would infringe on his rights, he added that he appreciates the work the Legislative Council is doing. At the end of the meeting, the council told those in the crowd it would take some suggestions into consideration as it continues its work on the matter.
"I think they took both sides," said Mason. "I think they're very responsible, and I think they're making a conscious effort to do something right. They're giving it 100%, and I'm very happy."
The town is mulling a system to regulate private shooting ranges, according to the Danbury News-Times. Jacob suggested the committee could retool the ordinance to set ground rules for private shooting ranges, while establishing a diverse panel of gun enthusiasists, neighbors and experts to craft a policy that would apply to individual ranges.