Shooting procrastination at Brox causes concern
To the Editor:
On June 27, the Milford Board of Selectmen postponed until July 24 a meeting to discuss target shooting at the town-owned Brox property, with a presentation by members of the public regarding a proposed shooting range.
This past winter, Police Chief Michael Viola had urged the BOS to establish a rule that forbids shooting, except during hunting season, due to the inherent dangers posed by target shooters to neighborhood residents and the nearby elementary school. The original issue, as presented by the police chief, was one of public safety and for the police to have a legal backing when responding to frequent calls by neighborhood residents and the school regarding the shooting.
Since that time, there have been a number of BOS meetings when this issue has been discussed without a definitive answer to the police, with the BOS referring resolution to yet another meeting. Each time, the BOS has deferred to the opinion of Selectman Gary Daniels that the town may not have the right to prohibit target shooting at Brox, saying that only the state can make firearm regulations.
So, how has this original public safety concern been turned into the regulation of firearms? This is a land use issue, not a prohibition of firearms.
It is my understanding that the town can, and does, regulate business and recreational activities through zoning and other ordinances. I know that, in my residential neighborhood, I cannot operate certain types of businesses out of my home due to zoning. I also know that there are certain noise-producing activities that I cannot engage in during certain hours of the early morning or night due to ordinances. I presume that if I decided to target shoot in my backyard, it would be met with great displeasure from my neighbors, despite the fact that there is at least 300 feet distance from their homes.
Would the BOS condone regular loud metal music events at Brox, held whenever the music enthusiasts felt the need to express themselves according to their First Amendment rights? I think not.
The BOS’s disregard to the police chief’s original public safety concern is puzzling. If the police, who have great experience in the use of firearms, think this particular activity in that specific location is inherently dangerous, why doesn’t the BOS accept their expert opinion and grant a ruling prohibiting this type of land use at Brox?
If the police think target shooting is dangerous to the neighborhood and the schoolkids, what type of liability does this create for the town? What has town counsel advised? Rather than delaying the issuance of a ruling in order to view a presentation of a proposed target shooting range, shouldn’t the BOS have town counsel present legal views on the matter instead?
Also, since this is really about a proposed use of town-owned land, aren’t Milford voters supposed to make this decision by ballot? If the BOS permits target shooting at Brox, isn’t that a unilateral decision about the use of taxpayer-owned property without the public’s determination through voting? Isn’t that taxation without representation?
These are all valid questions that our elected officials need to answer.
If you are a resident of the neighborhood near Brox, or a parent of an elementary school child at Heron Pond, or just a taxpayer like myself who is concerned about public safety and governmental overreach, I urge you to either contact the BOS and state your opinion or attend the July 24 meeting.