"If you can keep playing tennis when somebody is shooting a gun down the street, that's concentration." This week, the Union Leader treated us to the pithy headline, Fairways Firing Ranges dont mix in Londonderry. Interestingly enough, UL Correspondent April Guilmet, never contacted Londonderry Fish & Game Club Leadership for comment or input. She did today after the story was written and posted.
Bread and Circus: A cliché aptly suited in describing the Londonderry Town Council. Council Chariman John Farrell (not the John Farrell of Country Pond Fish & Game) granted Londonderry Country Club Owner Tom Kimball his wish for the Council to hold a council meeting at the Golf Club. The purpose of which is that the council can hear the gunfire from the Londonderry Police Range..er, the Londonderry Fish and Game Club..wait? which is it, Tom? Ah! both.
Tom Kimball, owner of the Londonderry Country Club, many times since 1990, has requested the town to enact and ordinance banning all outdoor shooting from taking place, except indoors at an indoor shooting range. During one such effort he was actually successful to get the signatures needed in a petition drive to have the ban put in a warrant article...which was voted down. Hasn't Tom Kimball ever seen the Man of LaMancha? His most recent attempt to get some face time for his quest to ban outdoor shooting was a year ago this month when the council examined the feasibility of building a public shooting range. In a strange twist of irony, one of the sites on the Musquash Conservation Land examined was a parcel that would have placed the public range considerably closer to his property than either LPD's range or LFGC's club facility. The parcels were all disqualified as not viable, however Kimball's complaints were not a factor....funny.
On July 23, I detailed the nature of whiny sniveling residents in Anatomy of Gun Range Neighbors the all too predictable behavior of people who create conflict with long- established Gun Ranges. The Range de jour was the Monadnock Road and Gun Club in Peterborough, New Hampshire. And another entry on July 24 entitled, "Idiots And Cowards Who Complain About Gun Ranges." I detailed the New Hampshire Law pertaining to ranges, some discussion on precedent-setting cases and elaborated why the sound of gunfire does not rise to a nuisance level. The links are above, so there is no need for me to rehash the arguments.
At present, the Londonderry Town Council will hold their "bread and circus" council meeting at the Londonderry Country Club, the purpose of which is for counselors to hear the gunfire. So, the meeting takes place and they all hear the gunfire. Then what?
How will Tom Kimball be mollified? How will he be appeased? What edict will the council make? What fact will be found? "By Joe! Listen! Gunfire...Hey! You people shut up back there, we are trying to hear the gun fire!" The end game for Tom Kimball is an ordinance banning all outdoor shooting. And if you think I am being a charlatan, just ask him. He will tell you. It's in the town records. The councilors will go, will hear gunfire and will probably not agree on its' nuisance value. Big deal. Even if they wanted to, they can do nothing. Perhaps they have full control over the Londonderry Police Range; Perhaps they could even shut it down. But certainly not the Londonderry Fish & Game Club. [Insert Charlie Sheen - "Winning"] Moreover, if they attempt that, we will clearly carry the water on that issue for the town employees (Cops) who might otherwise have to remain silent and moderate, accepting whatever fate is dealt them.
First, RSA 159-B:1 exempts LFGC, Its' Officers and Members from civil liability or prosecution for noise pollution when in compliance with noise control ordinances at the time the range was established, constructed, or otherwise began operations. So you can't sue us for private nuisance.
Second, Kimball's ordinance would violate RSA 159:26 where the legislature has reserved exclusive authority over firearms laws in the state. To paraphrase, "all municipal ordinances relating to use of firearms shall be null and void."
Finally, the Londonderry taxpayers are not going to pony up the millions it costs to build an indoor shooting range. Jim McCloud of Manchester Firing Line, (Also an LFGC Club member) can attest to just how very expensive it is to build, operate and maintain an indoor range. Moreover, indoor shooting ranges are limited to handguns and certain few long guns. Hunting rifles and Muzzle loaders are generally used out of doors with terra-formed-berms.
Tom Kimball's ban on outdoor shooting in Londonderry enjoys no obvious support in the court of public opinion. Look at all the of 48 comments at the Union Leader online story. At the very least Tom could find a few fellow curmudgeons to help him along on his Quixotic journey. [insert] crickets chirping.
Council Chairman John Farrell in an e-mail response to me stated that he knows all the laws I cited in an e-mail to him about Kimball's ubiquitous and inane babbling. So if he knows, and is armed with the facts, then why is he undertaking this exercise in futility, entering onto Kimball's turf to hear the gun fire? He has to know that whether he agrees or disagrees with Kimball, there can be no measure that serves to curtail our operation. So again, why the bread and circus?
Rick Olson is the current Londonderry Fish & Game Club President.