Backyard firing range ordinance shot down in Highgate
HIGHGATE, Vt. -
Residents of the Hideaway Paradise in Highgate say they are not living in paradise.
"We are living in a war zone," Cindy Morris said.
Morris is referring to some of her neighbors who have turned their backyards into makeshift firing ranges.
"I would like to go for a walk around the square but I can't, because you never know where the bullets are going or when they will be shooting," said Morris, who supports a gun ordinance.
Neighbors say when the weather is nice, gunfire is heard daily and sometimes for hours.
"We're not just concerned about the safety, but the noise is horrible," said John Wilda, who supports a gun ordinance.
For the past few months, residents of Hideaway Paradise and along Monument Road have been pushing for the select board to pass an ordinance regulating backyard shooting ranges in their neighborhood and around the two schools in the community. The select board decided to put it up for a nonbinding vote at town meeting.
"If you pass an ordinance in one place we are all going to be threatened by it, because it will be wait a minute, I don't like the shooting either," said Joe Commo, who opposes a gun ordinance.
One person brought up the fatal shooting of St. Michael's College Professor John Reiss back in 2008. He had just sat down for dinner with his wife inside their home in Essex, when a stray bullet from a neighbor's backyard firing range struck Reiss in the heart, killing him instantly.
"It only took one bullet, that's all it took," said Lisa Letourneau, who supports a gun ordinance.
People who use the backyard ranges near the Hideaway Paradise say they are safe and did not realize neighbors were upset.
"If we knew the community was upset, we would have placed phone calls; the guys are going to be out there Saturday morning, at this time, if you are afraid the kids will be hurt, don't have them out during that time," said Beth Libby, who opposes a gun ordinance.
After nearly an hourlong debate, residents weighed in on the proposed ban.
"It was 38 yes, 65 no, so the article was defeated," Highgate Town Moderator Patrick McGovern announced.
Despite the defeat, supporters of the ordinance say they are ready to fire back and will not give up their fight.
"There's no compromise when it comes to safety, it's either we are safe or we aren't in our neighborhood," said Vern Brosky, who supports a gun ordinance.
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