Police to draft firearms rule

Use will be limited near Brox property

MILFORD — Selectmen are considering a rule that would ban firearms at the Brox property, except for gun use by licensed hunters in season.

Last week, the board asked Milford Police Chief Michael Viola to draft the rule’s wording.

Police say they have received complaints about shooting on the town-owned property, including complaints from the nearby Heron Pond Elementary School.

Selectmen said they prefer the idea of a rule instead of an ordinance because an ordinance would mean hunting would have to stop on all 270 acres.

Chris Drescher, a town attorney, had suggested designating Brox a “compact area,” but that would mean no hunting, including bow hunting, except with individual approval, a restriction that the board doesn’t like.

Viola and Capt. Craig Frye went to the board last month to request a firearms restriction at Brox, saying there is no ordinance to back them up when they try to get shooters to leave the area.

Town officials said they received several letters supporting the idea of a shooting ban at Brox, and Selectman Mike Putnam said people in town he talked to expressed the same opinion.

Last month, Putnam and Selectman Gary Daniels spoke against a ban, saying there are already too many rules limiting people’s freedom.

Selectman Kevin Federico, who took part in the meeting via Skype, said there is a “huge difference between hunting and target shooting, and if the town condones shooting at Brox, it opens itself to liability.”

Police say most, or all, people shooting at Brox are from out of town, which concerns officials because out-of-towners aren’t likely to know there’s a school nearby. The property is also used by hikers and mountain bikers, and there are two new sports fields on the property.

If a rule is enacted, Viola said, police would “not go right out and ticket people,” but would begin an education process with public service announcements and signs posted on the two roads leading into the property.

Daniels had said state law that allows guns on town lands might supersede any town ban, but Drescher said he believes municipalities do have that authority to control gun use, though there has never been a court challenge.

Kathy Cleveland can be reached at 673-3100 or kcleveland@cabinet.com.