Anatomy Of Gun Range Neighbors - Granite Grok

Anatomy Of Gun Range Neighbors

“Complainers change their complaints, but they never reduce the amount of time spent in complaining.”  —Mason Cooley

Here we go again. Same old story. Same old lame complaints. The Monadnock Rod and Gun Club was established in 1947. This 65-year old club continues to do what it always has done: Operate shooting ranges. And, like any other Sporting Club, the amount and continuity of the sound of the shooting ambience, varies with time of season and number of events hosted at the club.In short, neighboring residents can reasonably expect to hear gunfire more during certain times of the year than other times of the year. And if they cannot live with that, then why on earth purchase a home in proximity to a shooting range?

The Keene Sentinel featured a story on July 11 entitled, Gun noise draws fire in Peterborough, where the story says, ” Neighbors say they can no longer take their windows rattling and houses shaking from the noise of a nearby shooting range.”

And, wouldn’t you know it? Neighbors also claimed that stray bullets have landed in backyards. More on that issue later, but there is one constant that must always be looked at by Club leadership when these issues arise: Motive. What event, incentive or other issue might all of a sudden be driving this? Did somebody try to sell their house, only to have the sale tank when it was discovered the home was in its proximity to a shooting range? Look what the Sentinel story had to say…

“We have a real problem,” Janet Luongo, of 421 Old Jaffrey Road in Peterborough told the Sentinel. I would say she does have a problem…She moved to an area near a shooting range…Correct…her problem,  NOT the MRGC’s…Simple mathematics and public records information gives us  insight within the nature of the problem.

According to widely available public records, Janet and Edward Luongo resided in New Ipswich until 2008. Records additionally indicate they were transpants from the Bay State, specifically, Pepperill Massachusetts until moving to the Granite State in 2005. In July of 2009 Edward and Janet purchased their home on Old Jaffrey Road,  built  in November of 2003. The home itself is in its’ infancy in relation to the area.

According to a GIS Analysis, The Luongo’s home is over 2,600 feet West of the Monadnock Rod and Gun Club…(yes…over a half mile) buffered by heavily forested lands.

According to Risk Consultants, Inc., Gunfire, in proximity to a firearm discharge event, reaches upwards of 155 decibel thresholds at just 10 feet away. If one stands 50 feet away, the risk of hearing loss diminishes to roughly 85 decibels. A half mile from the source reduces that level to 30 decibels. (Human speech registers at 25-35 decibels and that little factoid does not take into account accoustic buffering such as forestation.)

“Some also worried about property values going down, and Peterborough getting a reputation for the noise,” Claims the Sentinel piece. Do take notice, however, that no attribution is given to that little morsel…but there is your motival driver.   Neighbors also claimed that stray bullets have landed in backyards, but Club Board Chairman Mark Carbone stated in his letter that, “the club has looked into these claims and found no evidence that members were responsible.” and with a wild guess, I can tell you why…As fate would have it, there tends to be a whole lot of Real Estate between Ranges and those who make such claims. Despite those who enter on land not controlled by the club,  for target practice, clubs end up being the, “known quantity” and easy target for blame.

Debby Kaiser asserted, “It’s about our quality of life,” Quality of Life…Ever take notice such nuanced references to quality of life are never balanced against the quality of life  for those who own firearms and go to Ranges? Not part of the equation.

Luongo then brings to the Select Board’s attention that the Monadnock Community Early Learning Center ( which has not been in that location for half as long as MRGC) is near the shooting range, and wondered if the club violates a federal law that does not allow a gun within 1,000 feet of a school.

Selectmen said they would look into that. I can save them the trouble, though. (Passed in 1990)The Gun Free School Zones Act states in part:

“(3) (A) Except as provided in subparagraph (B), it shall be unlawful for any person, knowingly or with reckless disregard for the safety of another, to discharge or attempt to discharge a firearm that has moved in or that otherwise affects interstate or foreign commerce at a place that the person knows is a school zone. (B) Subparagraph (A) does not apply to the discharge of a firearm—   (i) on private property not part of school grounds; “

Let me restate what that says…”Subparagraph (A) does not apply to the discharge of a firearm on private property not part of school grounds… So there is that….

Bullets landing in yards. That faux issue is a real snoozer. Notice how none stepped up, giving his or her name as the victim of some wayward bullet landing in the yard? That is a favorite allegation within the liberal anti-gun cabral’s repertoire of fictions to smear clubs and shape public opinion against them. It plays nicely in the lamestream media because nobody ever challenges the veracity of such a charge.

As President of a large club with active ranges, this little nasty accusation has been dropped in my lap more than a few times. Upon asking to see the projectile and the location of its finding, accusers end the conversation and that is the last we ever hear from them.

Reasonably establishing that the neighbors’ motives might be less than pure, they should have sought some advice and counsel from a competant attorney on the subject matter, before looking like a bunch of whining schmucks crying in the laps of town selectmen. So what of all their complaining? Here;s what….

RSA 159-B:1 Exemption. Notwithstanding the provisions of RSA 644:2, III(a) or any other law to the contrary, no person who owns, operates or uses a shooting range in this state shall be subject to civil liability or criminal prosecution in any matter relating to noise or noise pollution, provided that the owners of the range are in compliance with any applicable noise control ordinances in existence at the time the range was established, was constructed, or began operations.  

In a Nutshell Neighbors can file suits over noise pollution, but said suits will be dismissed. There are some who file suits for the nuisance value of doing so. So there is always this:

159-B:27 Cause of Action. -The owners of a shooting range shall have a right of action in superior court to enforce the provisions of this chapter.

Nobody asked any of these people to move there. They were not forced to purchase their homes and the Rod and Gun Club was there in place long before they probably ever heard of Peterborough.  Which brings us to this lovely little gem from Blackstones Commentaries:

If my neighbour makes a tan-yard, so as to annoy and render less salubrious the air of my house or gardens, the law will furnish me with a remedy; but if he is first in possession of the air, and I fix my habitation near him, the nuisance is of my own seeking, and must continue.— (Blackstone 1766: 402-403)

In simpler terms, we call this the doctrine of, “Coming to a nuisance.” We see this principle in action in the case, Spur Industries v. Del E. Webb Development Co., 108 Ariz. 178, 494 P.2d 700 (1972). Even if the residents around MRGC could get the activites declared a nuisance and enjoin the club from operating,  we need only defer to “coming to a nuisance” doctrine, that prohibits equitable relief for a homeowner who purchases a home within the reach of the nuisance.

The court in the Spur case stated that Webb would be required to  indemnify Spur for losses sustained as a result of a cessation of his business. The court reasoned that, whereas the “coming to a nuisance” doctrine usually bars relief, there was a public interest at play here, and Webb’s choice to come to the nuisance could not preclude the public from being protected from the nuisance. Despite being declared a nuisance, (which many think is incorrect as a matter of law) Webb would pay big bucks to Spurr for the elimination of the nuisance.

Lastly, we need only look to Sara Realty, LLC. v. Country Pond Fish & Game Club, Inc., 158 N.H. 578 (2009) for guidance and precedent. Sara sought to have the Court issue injunctive relief prohibiting Country Pond “from engaging in and allowing any outdoor shooting activities until and unless . . . . [it] has implemented adequate noise control measures.” The court granted summary judgment in favor of Country Pond.

[The Statute’s Objective] the court wrote in Sara,  “[I]s to assure that the state’s shooting ranges, which to a large degree came into existence in rural settings with rather little, or non-existent, noise regulations then in place, would not be eliminated or unduly endangered in their operations, because of encroaching development, accompanying noise-related private nuisance litigation, or increased regulatory oversight concerned with noise.”

Sara raised the specter of the law being unconstitional, asserting that 159-B foreclosed the rights of redress and remedy to affected residents, to which the court responded,

“[While] it is true that RSA 159-B burdens landowners like Sara Realty by abridging their ability to seek relief, RSA 159-B, as applied here, nonetheless passes constitutional muster.”

In conclusion, here we have yet another Rod and Gun Club under attack by whining neighbors whose claims, when examined under close scrutiny are dubious at best. And the town will send a letter…Oh dear, not a letter….A Letter? Seriously? written by none other than Joe Byck, an attorney.One would think he might polish up on this stuff…Looks a bit like pandering to me.

We then have the hue and cry of the Gun Safe School Zone specter raised. I mean, come on, Lady! You might think we’re a bunch of hicks or rednecks, but trust me when I tell you that this isn’t our first dance with this issue. You shrill residents came to a nuisance….Time, medication and some counseling is your remedy. Live with it and leave the Club alone. As for imposing restrictions on what kind of firearms may or may not be used, I’d tell the neighbors to, “pound sand.”