CLAYTON — Residents of the Bayberry Trails subdivision in May 2015 first addressed their concerns over gunfire taking place at a homemade shooting range on a nearby property.
Over the last nine months Clayton Council has been considering passing an ordinance to modify its codified ordinances to regulate where and what kind of guns can be discharged in the city. Some members of council think too much time had passed and that the legislation needs to be acted upon.
City Council will meet in workshop session on July 7 at 6:30 p.m. Part of the workshop will include four different versions of ordinances council will review regarding regulating discharging of firearms. The public can attend any workshop session. A regular council meeting will follow the workshop session. Council will not vote on the gunfire legislation until the July 21 meeting.
At the July 16 meeting residents again addressed council about the discharging of firearms issue.
“I am all about safety. I own a gun and I will shoot somebody if they come in my house and threaten me, but I am not going to shoot in my back yard,” said Carolyn Gerson. “No disrespect to you Mr. Gorman, but you were wrong. The guy that has the guy that has the license to sell guns and sells guns lives on a little half-acre or maybe third acre property. He doesn’t live in the big farm house that you mentioned two weeks ago.”
She noted that the only people that will be able to shoot if council chooses to pass legislation requiring a 3 acre minimum property on which a resident could discharge a firearm, would be the people that live in the farm house along Union Road to the east of Bayberry Trails subdivision. Another resident in that area who trap shoots also has a big enough lot.
Two weeks ago a resident reported that the gunfire emanating from that property sounded like it was World War II.
“It’s horrible,” Gerson said.
She also said she didn’t think any of the men who come to shoot guns at the farm house would ever intentionally harm anyone, but she pointed out that if Dick Cheney could accidentally shoot his best friend while quail hunting anyone could accidentally get shot.
“If police shoot a man in Wal-Mart and a lady has a heart attack because she hears the gun shots, people driving down Westbrook, Union Road, National Road, Crestway, Southway… all those roads that people shoot right off of… Wenger. One guy shoots right off of Wenger Road. What keeps somebody from having a heart attack or getting scared and driving off the road?” Gerson continued.
Mike and Josie Chakeres also addressed council.
“The concern is that this man has a mental position that he is allowed to do this because there is no ordinance against it,” Mike Chakeres said. “When I heard this tremendous commotion on Mother’s Day a few weeks ago, I called the police and spoke with Chief Hamlin, and to my surprise there was no ordinance against firing guns. I really didn’t know what was going on. It really did sound like a war or, God forbid, or maybe it sounded like some event in Orlando. That is the problem today. The concern has to be, especially from the police side, if you allow people to create these back yard shooting galleries, how do you distinguish when somebody is going out to just have a little bit of fun, or when there is a serious, catastrophic event or occurrence?”
He pointed out that his neighbor has automatic weapons and cannons. Chakeres said the neighbor shoots handguns, then automatic weapons for a half hour to 45 minutes and then cannons going off.
“If you lived next to that you would have a terrible, terrible concern,” Chakeres stated. “It affects my family directly. You are no longer in the country. You have declared that this is a city, then be like every other city in Montgomery County and make a restriction against this discharging of firearms in public. There is a time and place for everything. If you want to go have fun and shoot for several hours, go to a shooting range.”
He pointed out that just because the neighbor has three feet of dirt packed together to shoot at, those bullets are coming in the direction of somebody else’s property.
“I think we have to face realities today,” Chakeres said. “The world is going crazy and I think in fairness to the police we have to be careful so that we don’t permit, legally, people to be able to go out weapons for an extended period of time. If you give legal license to do this you’ve got how many people living in this community and 15 or 20 of them want to have the same fun on a beautiful Sunday afternoon and go out shooting, or maybe 50 people? Then what do you suddenly when amongst all that you have a crisis and somebody is getting shot because somebody is going postal?”
He urged council that when they make decisions to do so as if it was located in their own back yards.
“I have three young great-grandchildren, boys, that wanted to go fishing and they couldn’t because they were afraid because gunfire was coming in the direction of where we live,” Chakeres added. “You know, that’s an unfortunate thing. I’ve got a gun. I’m not anti-guns. I’m very pro-guns, but there is a time and a place.”