2014-11-06 / News

Gun advocate warns against local ordinance

By Margo Sullivan

The treasurer of the Rhode Island State Rifle & Revolver Association delivered a message to town officials Monday.

Steve Hogan, a Cranston resident, told the Town Council on Nov. 3 to tread carefully before enacting any new ordinances about discharging firearms inside town limits.

During open forum, Hogan said he wanted to address a controversy over target practice on private property. Recently, several residents have asked the council to regulate Jamestown’s so-called private shooting ranges due to safety issues.

Hogan said the people are shooting into dirt mounds on their own property, but when the police department asked them to stop, they complied voluntarily.

A recent Jamestown Press article, however, indicated the councilors were still considering a local ordinance to address firearms. According to Hogan, state laws control every aspect of firearms, and his organization would oppose a local ordinance.

“We can’t have 39 cities and towns doing their own regulations of firearms,” he said. Hogan asked the councilors to imagine how it would impact Rhode Island if each municipality enacted its own requirements for driver’s licenses. State law already bans shooting in “compact areas,” he said, and on private property without the owner’s permission.

Hogan, who said he is a certified instructor with the National Rifle Association, questioned if Jamestown has any compact areas, with the possible exception of downtown.

“I don’t consider Jamestown a compact area,” he said. Even if it were, Hogan added, the law would not apply to people shooting on large private properties. Moreover, the town has just adopted several ordinances to allow hunting on town land and established a “bounty” on deer. Hogan said he did not see how hunting could continue if the town regulated firearms.

“It just doesn’t seem right,” he said.

Finally, he offered to “answer any questions you possibly could have,” but Council President Kristine Trocki said the council could not comment because the issue wasn’t on the agenda.

“When you see it appear on an agenda, if it does, that would be the time (for a discussion),” she said.

Hogan said one of the shooting ranges is next to the landfill. If he “takes one step” off his own property, he would be allowed to shoot per a new town ordinance, he said. Also, most of the police practice on private ranges in Jamestown, and the citizens academy also used a private range.

“Be careful what you ask for,” he said, since Jamestown police could wind up paying to use a “bona fide range someplace.”

Councilor Blake Dickinson said he wanted to raise a point of order, and objected to the statement that there is a bounty on deer.

Dickinson said the money is a “reimbursement” and does not apply to the first deer taken.

Town Administrator Andy Nota asked the council’s permission to meet with Hogan about the issue. The staff has been working to “evaluate the public health and safety issue,” Nota said, but added he found a few of Hogan’s comments “just slightly misleading.”

Nota did agree about the lack of a definition for a compact area in Jamestown, though.

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