Newtown approves gun ordinance restricting recreational shooting

For well over a year now town officials have been debating a firearms ordinance that would restrict recreational shooting in Newtown, Connecticut. 

Last week, after nine public hearings and over 200 hours of public testimony, the Legislative Council came to terms, agreeing on a “compromised” statute that limits how long residents can shoot firearms on their own property.

“No resident may shoot for more than four hours after police are notified and shooting is limited to one person at a time,” the ordinance states as reported by NewsTimes.com.

“Target backstops are required and must be 10 feet above the target,” the ordinance continues.

Lastly, there is no shooting allowed within a half-mile of a school.  The ordinance only affects recreational shooting.  Hunters, military professionals and law enforcement are exempt.  Also, gun salutes for memorial events and tributes are not affected by the ordinance.

On Monday, Jeff Capeci the president of the Legislative Council said the ordinance strikes the right balance between preserving a gun owner’s Second Amendment rights and addressing safety and nuisance concerns of other residents.

“It’s a good compromise considering the varying interests,” Capeci told NewsTimes.com.

Though, all along, gun owners have argued that it’s a solution in want of a problem.

“I don’t believe this ordinance is necessary,” said Andrew Buzzi, a member of the local Fish and Game Club, who spoke at a public hearing back in September 2012.

He explained that while police receive complaints about gun owners firing their weapons, very rarely are there situations where the public is at risk.  Moreover, in a majority of cases, the shooting stops the second the officers arrive.

“Let your standard for the passage of this ordinance be necessity,” Buzzi told the Newtown Patch.

Tom Catalina echoed Buzzi’s thoughts, noting that there has never been a report of injury or property damage caused by target shooting, so he didn’t think the public safety argument held water.

“Don’t try to fix it if it’s not broken. There’s no evidence,” Catalina said.

The debate over recreational shooting started months before the mass shooting at Sandy Hook Elementary School, where 20 children and six adults were slain by a deranged gunman.  It’s unclear to what extent this tragic event impacted the debate or influenced the ultimate decision to change the law — though, it wouldn’t be all that surprising if proponents of the ordinance used Sandy Hook as a way to appeal to the emotions of the Legislative Council.

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