Shooting at Brox leads to questions

The Milford selectmen have asked several important questions of a group that wants to set up a town-authorized, thus legally sanctioned, shooting range on the Brox property after hearing what has been referred to as an in-depth proposal from the new Milford Gun Club.

They probably will get answers to those questions at their next meeting, because if they don’t, it will be a clear indication that this club doesn’t have its ducks in a row. Indeed, we wonder why no one anticipated that such questions would be asked.

Here are the questions to which the board wants answers: How would rules be enforced? Would use be limited to Milford residents? Could they bring guests? Who would check identification? Where would people park?

Not asked by the board as a whole, but a key point brought up by Chairman Mark Fougere, was the issue of paying for the cleaning up of lead left by people using the range. Would the Milford Gun Club foot that bill? Would the club want to charge people to use the range? Would that be legal, given that it would be on town-owned land?

And what about the lead already on the property? Before shooting could begin, the selectmen agreed, the town would have to clean that up so that officials would have a baseline to use to see how much new lead was left by the gun club. In other words, taxpayers would be paying so that people who want to shoot can do so, even if the number of people using the range would be small.

More concerning to us is the specious argument that the gun club has a right to use the town-owned land because it is town-owned, and as citizens and taxpayers, they should have access to it for such recreational purposes as shooting.

But that ignores the rights of other Milford taxpayers and residents; i.e., the nearby residents who are strongly opposed to the shooting range because of noise. And make no mistake: It would be noisy.

Indeed, the town’s police chief had started this issue by asking the selectmen for an ordinance that would allow his department to get shooters to cease and desist when nearby residents complain. Instead, the selectmen seem prepared to agree on – probably by a 3-2 vote – a proposal that is far from what Chief Michael Viola initially suggested.

It is easy to look at an idea in theory, as the gun club is doing, and find it doable, but no plan ever goes as planned, and it’s unlikely that club members thought of the cost of cleaning up lead.

And to one of the questions posed by the board: If the range were only to be open to Milford residents, who would check identification? What if someone simply refused to show it? Would club members have the power to demand it or to keep that person out? That doesn’t seem likely.

No one knows how a proposal such as a shooting range will play out until it gets rolling and then, well, be prepared for surprises such as recalcitrant people who don’t belong but don’t want to leave.

And has anyone discussed liability? Would it be upon the club? But it’s town-owned land. Suppose someone is injured and decides to sue.

Yes, the selectmen came up with a good list of questions, but the questions lead to more, and all of them must be answered.