Some Say Town Gun Ordinance Needs Change

According to a speaker at a recent meeting with legislators, town laws should be updated to address today's higher-powered firearms.


At a Feb. 16 Newtown Action Alliance meeting with area legislators at Newtown High School, resident Richard Hutchinson told the crowd a story in the hopes of drawing attention to a local need that had remained on his mind since the Dec. 14 Sandy Hook Elementary School shooting.

On Jan. 6, he said, a resident was on his roof when he was hit in the hand by a stray bullet from one of three nearby private properties that are regularly used for target shooting practice. He added the man has the bruised hand — and bullet — to prove it. According to Hutchinson, the bullet came from 1,700 feet away, up the street from where he lives in the southern section of Newtown.

Another resident of the southern section of town, Eric Poupon, said he too was looking to state legislators to take action on a gun ordinance, in hopes that it would lead to change in Newtown. Poupon related this to Patch as he signed in to testify at the Bipartisan Task Force on Gun Violence Prevention and Children's Safety hearing at Newtown High School on Jan. 30.

Section 128-1 of Newtown's town code prohibits shooting "within 500 feet of 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."

The law dated back to 1968, said Hutchinson, when housing density was not what it is today, and when gun power was less than what it is today. Many guns have a range of far more than 500 feet; for example, a Colt AR-15 has an effective range of about 600 meters, or 1,968 feet, according to Colt.

Hutchinson said he was "shocked" to learn that shooting (noise) complaints to police doubled in the past year, and told legislators action at the state level could embolden the town to change the ordinance. (A request to the Newtown Police Department for more information on complaints is pending as of Feb. 27.)

"We are not going to come up with all of the answers," said state Sen. John McKinney, R-28. "We are not going to solve the problems overnight ... Newtown should feel free to act whether we do or not."

Legislative Council Chairman Jeff Capeci told Patch he remembered the issue coming before the council in 2012.

"There is an ordinance on the books," said Capeci. "It's in the ordinance committee right now ... They were deliberating on it up until the Dec. 14 tragedy. They haven't met since." 

Legislative Council member MaryAnn Jacob is chair of the ordinance committee. Jacob did not respond to repeated requests for comment, but Capeci said he'd talked with her about the issue.

"In discussions with her, I think she's interested in picking that up again sometime in the next couple weeks," Capeci said, adding no meeting had been scheduled yet. "In early March, assuming it doesn't get in the way of the budget."

At the Newtown Action Alliance meeting, state Rep. Mitch Bolinsky, R-106, who was a member of Newtown's Legislative Council until he was elected to serve Newtown's district as a state legislator, said discussions on the town's gun ordinance had been "controversial."

"It was tabled," he said.

Joe March 01, 2013 at 01:46 PM
I'm raising the BS flag on this post. I seriously doubt you hunt or own weapons. The police have investigated EVERY complaint and determined the the activity LAWFUL. Explosions? I say BS to that. Your argument is childish at best. Freedoms don't end at the public door - where'd you learn that? Your Social Studies class in Middle School? Bottom line is, the Constitution PROTECTS rights. The 2nd Amendment wasn't written for hunting or your peace and quiet. It was written to PREVENT people like you from alienating MY right. Go back to Social Studies class and ask a few questions.
4thtimesacharm March 01, 2013 at 04:51 PM
Jeff -- I live on Split Rock Rd. and I can assure you this unfirtunate event did in fact take place. The man was standing in his roof as a new roof was being put on and was lucky that it was only a bruise thanks to heavy roofers gloves he was wearing. As for the distance, it can be approximately calculated on any online map site. We know we where the targets are set up and where the house is located. It's easy to determine in zillow or any similar website. There is no need for ballistics to determine the shooter. We know who it is and he admits the bullet came from his gun on that day. I have lived here for close to 5 years and the shooting has always been a slight nuisance but really didn't bother me that much until I came to the realization (when the bullet reached one of our properties) that my family was in danger.
Freddy March 01, 2013 at 04:56 PM
@SH Dad - I know for a fact that my ex-neighbor (if you consider someone over a 1/2 mile away a neighbor) was abusive and disruptive to the entire area. Someone who generates police complaints from 15 different houses (and, yes, I was unfortunately one of them) is clearly doing something wrong. Do you think its fun picking up the phone and calling the police? I don't. Calling the police is a big deal. What are the police going to do? The only rule on the books is that you have to be 500 feet away from a house (other than your own). The normal interaction is that they probably show up and tell the shooter to calm it down a little. Only when someone gets actually injured/killed will the police have something to actually enforce. No, I'm not a gun afficianado. This thread isn't about gun control or limiting gun ownership. Its about how guns are used in town for recreational purposes. I think it imposes a definite disruption to neighborhoods, scares children, wastes police resources responding to calls from concerned neighbors, and increases the risk of accidental injuries to those who have nothing to do with it. On the flip side, a few people with big back yards get to have fun.
Donald Borsch Jr. March 01, 2013 at 05:17 PM
Cheryl, The AR15 platform is .223, barely larger than a common .22, which is, by the way, and excellent 'varmint and target shooter'. I learned to shoot using a .22 rifle, plinking old Coke cans from 50 yards. Your comments sound like you have been researching suspect sites designed to vilify legal semi-automatic rifles. I notice you are silent about semi-automatic handguns which are used by lesser men to kill many more people yearly than rifles.
Boggs March 01, 2013 at 06:29 PM
"The AR15 platform is .223, barely larger than a common .22" Is this suppose to ease the grief of the loved ones of the children that were MURDERED by this outrageous military style weapon? Think about how ridicules your blind support sounds to reasonable folks.
Jeff March 01, 2013 at 06:42 PM
@Kelly, thank you for clarifying. You must admit this sounded very suspicious and I can appreciate your concern. I thought others might be referencing the private fish and game club in the area. Sounds like this was an individual on private property? Unless your house is in a very low lying area, it's still tough to comprehend, but I'll take your word for it. Legal Gun owners and sportsman, including myself have been under attack. We've grown defensive. I understand what prejudice is like now. Individuals with knowledge on firearms would laugh it they didn't cry with all the misinformation out there. Cheryl above claims a metal file can quickly turn an AR into fully automatic? Wow! If anyone believes that, then they would believe that my son with a simple screwdriver can quickly turn his Mom's 4 cylinder Toyota into a fire breathing, 800 hp dragster, that not only terrorizes the town, but could be the reason for missing cats.
Michael Cragin March 01, 2013 at 07:21 PM
kelly.......these are gun people.....regardless of where you where to validate that...they will simply say.............you are wrong
Miguel Grande March 01, 2013 at 08:03 PM
There are too many children being born out of wedlock. No brainer, just pass a law to castrate all men. http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Acn-8kFZ7Gc
Miguel Grande March 01, 2013 at 08:48 PM
"There have been vast improvements in firearms since the days of Amendment #2?" That statement is more than just ignorant, it's almost criminal. In the days of Amendment #2, there was a firearm called a Blunderbuss. It's was a short version of a flintlock that was designed for marine warfare. One pull of the trigger would virtually clear the deck of an enemy frigate. A drug crazed shooter carrying 4 of these could wipe out 4 kindergartens easily. Gov Cuomo's illegal laws will allow these to exist today. In the days of the Amendment #2, Lewis & Clark used a silent and deadly weapon called the Girondoni Rifle to blaze the wild west. This evil monstrosity used a 46 caliber bullet that was twice the size of the AR15's puny bullet. It had a 22 round magazine. OMG!! They could bring down a 1,000 LB buffalo without disturbing the herd and then quickly dispatch 21 more. Quickly reload and murder 22 more. I'm surprised there were any buffalo left to feed the 115 million Indians that inhabited this land. Gov Cuomo's laws would not effect this air rifle in the least. Let's simply allow silencers and suppressors, that were illegally legistlated out of existence. You used to be able to go down to the local hardware store and purchase a silencer for your gun and you could practice shooting all you wanted without disturbing your neighbor. This would also solve the problem of bullets traveling thousands of feet past their intended targets. You're cat was eaten by a coyote.
Miguel Grande March 01, 2013 at 08:53 PM
Michael, you can't have a town vote to over rule the Bill of Rights in a Republic. Boggs, more people were killed by hammers than by these outrageous military style weapons. http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Acn-8kFZ7Gc
Steve March 01, 2013 at 09:10 PM
Kelly, A .223 round at the distance noted 1700ft or 567yards is moving at 1425 ft per second with enery of 248 (ft lbs). That distance is still within the combat effectiveness of a .223 round. That has equal power to a 38 caliber target round fired from point plank range. It would not only pierce a leather glove but continue right through the hand. That round if it was a bullet would have to be a glance off of a stationary object in order to slow done that much. And if it did it would not have the ballistic energy to travel that far or be intact when it got to the target. Not that I dispute the man's claim, it just doesnt sound kosher.
Steve March 01, 2013 at 09:18 PM
Hey Micheal, There seems to be all these "gun people" and you. Give you any indication as to how many actaully feel that all this gun controversy is taking advantage of a bad situation and not really " the general consences of the people". Accidents like the one described are few and far between. There are more accident deaths at intersections where left turns are attempted than by stray bullets. You going to stop left hand turns, maybe we should vote on it. And by the way, lets have a genral state wide vote on the subject of gun violence a see just how many people are on board with you.
Joe March 01, 2013 at 09:36 PM
Boggs, key word in your post is 'style'. The style of a weapon doesn't really mean anything relative to its performance. It's a little like racing stripes on a street legal car. There are a number of rifles that have a slightly different 'style' but similar performance that will go untouched by the proposed ban. So what's your answer to them? And I'll post one more time for those of you from Rio Linda....Newtown and Connecticut and the Country do NOT have a rifle problem. Less than 400 murders per year. Rifle murders are like a fart in a windstorm compared to handguns so why the outrage? Further, this thread is about the ordnance but the libs always go back to the AR-15 platform. You sound so wildly unintelligent when you whine about a type of rifle without even knowing the laws by which they're governed. We already have an 'assault weapon' ban in CT. Didn't you know this?
Joe March 01, 2013 at 09:43 PM
Michael, when you're wrong you're wrong. My opinion doesn't change facts any more than yours does. Kelly's post contains some valid points. Yours is meaningless. Kelly, I'm curious what you think should be done. Would adding distance to the ordnance help or make no difference? My opinion is you should be roughly 1/2 mile from civilization -or- be inspected to ensure some level of safety like a sand berm or a cement wall, etc. to fire openly and I have always been against the 500 law as it's written.
dj23 March 01, 2013 at 10:32 PM
Whatever happened to, the foundations of our Republic, freedom and liberty? The founding fathers must be rolling in their graves. If some idiot shot a gun negligently and harmed another person, they should be held accountable. If someone is burning brush in their backyard and burns down their neighbors house, they should be held accountable. If someone throws a baseball and it breaks a neighbors window, they should be held accountable. If someone cuts down a tree and it hits their neighbors car, they should be held accountable. We already have laws in place for these issues. Punish the bad guys not the good guys. I’m tired of people willing to give up their rights and sacrifice my rights because of the actions of a madman or an idiot. Don’t Tread on Me!!!
dj23 March 01, 2013 at 10:36 PM
michael, take your statement and change "people" to "haters" and it rings truer.
dj23 March 01, 2013 at 11:02 PM
Freddy, Have you heard of the word freedom? Statements like "I'm willing to let" and "I'm maybe willing to let" and "A few bad apples do ruin it for all of you" are used by dictators. .
dj23 March 01, 2013 at 11:14 PM
Cheryl, you obviously don’t know much about guns. The AR15 is in fact a great rifle for varmint hunting. I know numerous farmers that use it to shoot groundhogs and coyotes. It's cheap and effective. It cannot be easily converted to full auto. In fact, it is very difficult and requires additional parts. I don’t know why you mention it is semi-automatic unless you are using talking points from ill-informed gun haters. I have a bb gun that is semi-auto. Should we ban the bb guns also?
Donald Borsch Jr. March 02, 2013 at 01:40 AM
Boggs, Oh please. Stop trying to get the emotional card going with your blatant cowardice and wussiness. Cheryl said an AR15 is not "target shooter" or "varmint hunter", and she is wrong. Now you come into this with a tried-and-truly tedious wussy reaction, trying to paint the picture I am cold and heartless. Total fail. You are dismissed. You have consistently proven you're merely a Patch troll. Buh-bye.
Boggs March 02, 2013 at 03:13 AM
Herr Bosch you say "Oh please. Stop trying to get the emotional card going with your blatant cowardice and wussiness." That is by far the most IDIOTIC statment by you yet. Yea, 20 innocent lives are lost to a bloody murderer, but I guess it takes a real man like you to not be emotional about it, right dude? After all you love your guns morre than anything in life, makes you feel like a man I suppose. If you were a real man you wouldn't need to be a rambo wannabe! Tell us about your military service, I'm betting you took the dick cheney coward route!
Michael Cragin March 02, 2013 at 11:10 AM
as i was saying kelly............gun people..........also.Town Vote.......does Newtown want this..........i dont think Newtown is a republic with a constitution.......we vote on a budget......dont we?
Joe March 02, 2013 at 08:44 PM
Michael, you'd have the town vote on what exactly? The distance? The legality? The necessity? I find most elections are less about fact and more about emotion. There hasn't been a law broken here so how exactly would such a topic make it to a referendum? Should we also vote on how many police officers we need? I'd like to participate in that one too. I'd also like to make it punishable by 30 days MINIMUM for driving while on a cell phone - a MUCH bigger problem in town than some guys shooting (legally) on their property.Let's vote on cell phone use in cars while we're ay it, Are you aware that 10's of thousands of people die each year on our roads and highways as a result of distracted driving? Each of us has an opinion on what the biggest threats to public safety are. As they say....opinions are like armpits... everybody has them and most stink.
WaxyGordon March 02, 2013 at 08:51 PM
I bet the guy was hit in the hand by a falling acorn and thought it was a bullet.
Donald Borsch Jr. March 02, 2013 at 10:03 PM
Steve, The maximum effective range of the old school M16, which is 5.56/.223, is 300 meters. Max effective. At 567 yards, how effective would that be? You said it is the same as a point-blank discharge of a .38? Oh my.
Freddy March 03, 2013 at 03:41 AM
I invoke Godwin's law. I win the argument. http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Godwin's_law I lived for years with an abusive neighbor (over 1/2 mile away mind you) that tormented my whole neighborhood. Even my gun owning neighbors had a major problem with the guy. I want there to be a law that makes that not possible. Are you really so juvenile that you think that is somehow dictatorial?
KCNewtowner March 04, 2013 at 05:21 PM
I am tired of all of the anti-gun folks who have no clue as to what they are talking about. Go and get a gun license in CT and then see what the story really is. Laws don’t stop violence as the folks committing the crimes don’t care. And all of these folks who are so up in arms about the towns Gun Ordinance, why don’t we dedicate some open space to a large outdoor shooting range open to only the town residence? That will do a lot to getting folks out of their back yards. But then I can see the fire storm that will create…it is very hard to get anywhere with narrow minded folks who run on emotion and not facts…
Freddy March 04, 2013 at 09:17 PM
@KCNewtowner - As is clear from my diatribes in this thread, I'm vehemently against private backyard gun ranges, but I'm fine with having a public gun range in town. The town can impose reasonable rules, charge a nominal fee for use (for example, to cover the cost of upkeep/insurance/lead removal) and ensure the safety of the range and the range's neighbors. My old house bordered the Fairfield Fish & Game Club - they were respectful, reasonable neighbors who had their fun w/o it being at the expense of the sanity and safety of the neighborhood. I don't know where you put this hypothetical range, if the town can obtain insurance for it at reasonable premiums, and consequently it may not be practical. If we can have a skate park, I imagine its possible to have a range. I know that the FF&GC has a waiting list so I do understand the impetus for wanting to have a place to shoot. At the same time, lets be clear that shooting on a range is predominantly (unless you're a cop) a recreational activity that has negative implications for neighbors and especially under the current laws in town there are effectively no checks/balances. Hope that wasn't too emotional for you. I know that not having an arsenal at home makes me less of a man and subject to the vapors...
KCNewtowner March 05, 2013 at 12:26 PM
@Freddy- Emotional? No. Thanks for thinking out of the box and moving away from the all or nothing thinking. Having an arsenal or not, is not a measure of being a man. It is a choice. Some choose yes and some choose no. That is what our country is all about. The measure of being a man or woman is how you choose to think (being open minded or not), how you present yourself, being reasonable, and respectful. When we all measure up, we get more done and we are a much happier community. And I believe there are checks and balances to the current ordinance. I think that some folks want to change it, and that is the issue.
WaxyGordon March 05, 2013 at 02:12 PM
It would be great to have a firing range in town....if only we could then afford or even find the ammo to shoot with
Joe March 05, 2013 at 05:51 PM
Hoffman's has been mostly in stock for everything except .22LR. It's a long ride but MUCH cheaper than Gunbroker.com


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