After hearing numerous target shooters and hunters speak against a proposed new firearms ordinance, the Legislative Council’s Ordinance Committee decided to scrap it and make amendments to the existing ordinance instead.
About a hundred gun owners, many of them members of the Fairfield County Fish and Game Club, showed up at the committee’s meeting at Newtown High School Wednesday to voice their opposition to the ordinance.
No one spoke in favor of it.
The proposal came from the Newtown Police Commission. Council Chairman Jeffrey Capeci, who is an Ordinance Committee member, said the Police Commission and First Selectman Patricia Llodra have received numerous complaints from town residents about neighbors shooting guns.
The Police Commission’s proposal would have restricted target shooting on private property in Newtown without the permission of the police chief.
The proposed ordinance would not have applied to hunting, which is under state control.
Gun owners took advantage of the public participation portion of the Ordinance Committee’s meeting agenda to assail the ordinance as an infringement of their constitutional rights to bear arms and claimed there was no need for it in the first place.
"I don’t believe this ordinance is necessary," said Andrew Buzzi of Obtuse Road, who, like many others, is a member of the Fish and Game Club.
He and other speakers noted that although there have been many complaints to the police, very few of them were found to involve any risk to public safety. Most of the time, the shooting had stopped by the time officers arrived.
"Let your standard for the passage of this ordinance be necessity," Buzzi said.
A number of speakers told how they had enjoyed shooting on their properties for years without having anyone complain.
Elmer Cox said his family has lived on Pond Brook Road since 1935. His parents taught him to shoot, he taught his sons, and he looks forward to teaching his grandchildren when they are old enough.
His son, Aaron, noted state law and an existing Newtown ordinance both prohibit shooting within 500 feet of a building that houses people or domestic animals without the permission of the owner.
Tom Catalina of Butterfield Road said there had been no reports of injuries or property damage caused by target shooting, so he doubted there was a safety problem. "Don’t try to fix it if it’s not broken. There’s no evidence," Catalina said.
After the public comments, the committee discussion quickly showed little support for passing the proposal, although members also felt they should respond in some way to the numerous complaints.
So they decided to make revisions of the existing ordinance, perhaps to add a provision restricting hours for shooting or requiring gun owners to notify the Police Department ahead of time when they planned to shoot.