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Opinions - Nearby Residents Are Trying To Force Out The Local Gun Club

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Opinions - Nearby Residents Are Trying To Force Out The Local Gun Club

Old 02-17-06, 11:06 AM
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Opinions - Nearby Residents Are Trying To Force Out The Local Gun Club

I live in an area that used to be considered "the country" for many years. On the main road, there was nothing but young growth forests and the local gun club which has been around for about 50 years. 6 years ago, developers decided that the area would be desirable for residential homes. So they bought up every space surrounding and across the street from the gun club and built somewhat pricey homes. When residents bought homes (as I did), each was given a full page disclosure on the fact that the gun club existed and had shooting ranges and if they weren't OK with that, they shouldn't buy. I had no problem with this and purchased my home. In that time, I have used the walking paths down the main street frequently (I'm one of the few who actually do) to walk my dogs. In walking down the street, I can see the sign from the gun club and occasionally pickups going in and out of there, but no shooting ranges or guns or anything that would lead me to believe it was dangerous. I can hear shots fired, but have never seen anyone shooting. I don't even know what the place looks like inside because I've never driven down the main path. The only thing you can hear is the shots being fired.

Yesterday, I get a letter from concerned neighbors that the gun club is selling guns and ammunition and has shooting ranges too close to the main road. They assert that the gun club was ordered to stop selling guns 6 years ago but has never complied with the city. They say the facility is too dangerous to have located in a residential area and want the shooting ranges dramatically reduced and the sale of guns to cease. They are essentially trying to force them out.

I was discussing this with a neighbor who agrees on this. Myself, I have a major problem with this. Not that I like the gun club or the shooting, but it seems to me they have been located in the same place for 50 years and if residents didn't like it, they could buy elsewhere. Now that people are living here, they don't like the fact that it's there anymore and they are trying to shut them down.

And I have a question about selling guns. What does it take for an establishment like this to be able to sell guns? They have an entire webpage devoted to all the guns they have for sale, so it seems like if it were really a problem, some enforcement would have occurred over the past 6 years and someone would have shut them down. Instead, it seems like they have been told by the zoning board to stop this activity multiple times but nothing happened. I would think a gun club would be allowed to be involved in such activity. And why does the zoning board get to make the rules on this? Shouldn't there be some type of law on the books about this rather than a panel sitting down and saying "we don't like this, so shut it down"? They zoning board has asked them to stop selling guns and to dramatically reduce their shooting stations (by over half).

Anyone with any perspective on this? Are the gun club's rights being trampled or does a city zoning board have the right to shut people down at will?
Old 02-17-06, 11:11 AM
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Legally (and this isn't a legal opinion at all), the zoning board can do this. Not sure if they can say that "the gun club can't operate anywhere", but they can say "the gun club cannot operate in this particular area".

Whether it's stupid or not is another story.
Old 02-17-06, 11:18 AM
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I hate stuff like this. There was an old shooting range/club south of here (in Wilton, i think) that had been there for decades but since some of the land had been developed into residential tracks people complained about it and got it shut down.
Its like moving next to an airport and then complaining about the noise.
Old 02-17-06, 11:20 AM
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Of course, when a bunch of low-rent bow-tied local beaurocrats go up against Larry, Darryl, and his other gun-totin' brother Darryl...

All I can say is you had better lay in some sandbags.
Old 02-17-06, 11:30 AM
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Eminent domain!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!
Old 02-17-06, 11:44 AM
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I side with the gun range on this. If all potential residents were given and made to understand full discloser of the range, it should stay.

A similar thing occured around here but it was a case of an auto racetrack.
The racetrack was around forever and for years there was nothing at all nearby but trees. But as developers bought up 'country' land and built more housing, these developments got closer and closer to the racetrack. Of course once it got close enough to where the people who bought these houses could hear the racing they wanted the track torn down. It was no surprise to the people who bought these homes, they all knew there was a racetrack nearby, but they still wanted it gone. It's currently still there but I bet won't be for very long.

This is one of the problems that occurs as more and more 'country' is grabbed up by developers to build housing. The people that buy these homes often then want the 'country' to conform to them and their new lifestyles. They suddenly discover that there are actually things like deer and bears out there. Once the deer start eating their $20,000 worth of landscaping and the bears roam through their backyards looking for food these new residents freak and immediately want all animal life killed. They moved into the animals homes but once they decide that the once cute animals are inconvenient, they want them removed by whatever means available.
Old 02-17-06, 11:56 AM
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I don't really have much knowledge on zoning, but I would think a few things: (1) shouldn't the gun club's zoning be granfathered in? I mean they were obviously okay to be there at one time, how can the zoning board just change their mind and still be okay. Will the zoning board all of sudden decide my house is no longer okay to be residentially zoned? Seems like there is some issue with due process. (2) What exactly is a gun club zoned as? I mean I suppose I could shoot guns in my house if it was otherwise legal. Are they specifically zoning "shooting areas"? And what does that have to do with the sale of guns? How can you zone for a gun club, but not the sale of guns?
Old 02-17-06, 12:06 PM
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It may depend on each state, but I know that to get a license to sell guns around here, there are pretty strict guidelines. If the person who wrote the letter is factual, all they would need to do is give a formal complaint to the authorities who would investigate whether or not the gun shop is complying. My guess is that they are in compliance, but the letter writer needs to start a ground swell, and that won't happen with a letter that says, "The gun shop is in compliance and we need to do something about it."
Old 02-17-06, 12:08 PM
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Originally Posted by Jericho
I don't really have much knowledge on zoning, but I would think a few things: (1) shouldn't the gun club's zoning be granfathered in? I mean they were obviously okay to be there at one time, how can the zoning board just change their mind and still be okay. Will the zoning board all of sudden decide my house is no longer okay to be residentially zoned? Seems like there is some issue with due process. (2) What exactly is a gun club zoned as? I mean I suppose I could shoot guns in my house if it was otherwise legal. Are they specifically zoning "shooting areas"? And what does that have to do with the sale of guns? How can you zone for a gun club, but not the sale of guns?

In general, the zoning board can change the zoning, but I have never seen a previously existing business forced out as a result. They are generally given a variance so that they can continue to operate, but should they ever stop, the next owner would have to comply.
Old 02-17-06, 12:09 PM
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I'm against a gun club being there. I have no issues with those places, I just don't want my kids near it or those people on a daily basis.
Old 02-17-06, 12:12 PM
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Originally Posted by Numanoid
I'm against a gun club being there. I have no issues with those places, I just don't want my kids near it or those people on a daily basis.
And upon seeing the disclosure, you wouldn't have bought there.
Old 02-17-06, 01:13 PM
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Originally Posted by Numanoid
I'm against a gun club being there. I have no issues with those places, I just don't want my kids near it or those people on a daily basis.
Some of "those people" could very well be your friends, relatives, co-workers, and neighbors etc. Not every person who enjoys the shooting sports comes off as a psychopathic maniac or something.

Our neighbors would never in a million years conclude my wife and I are into shooting. We don't purposely hide the fact, it just has never come up in daily life or conversation.

I know a woman who is a nationally ranked skeet shooter. She is the sweetest little old lady you could ever meet and you would probaly never hesitate to have her baby sit for your children. But man she sure can shoot.
Old 02-17-06, 01:21 PM
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If the gun club was there first and all residents/prospective residents knew what they were getting into, then I think it's bull to try run them out. I vote for the gun club, not the ignorant.

Now I'm craving a shooting range.

I go to the range maybe 3 times a year. I love to shoot pistols. I don't own one, but it's a great stress relief and a lot of fun. Not much of a fan of the shotgun. It's fun to do once, for the kick of it, but I rather the skill of shooting at targets with pistols.

Fun stuff.
Old 02-17-06, 01:21 PM
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Originally Posted by kvrdave
And upon seeing the disclosure, you wouldn't have bought there.
Old 02-17-06, 01:22 PM
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Originally Posted by Phil L.
Some of "those people" could very well be your friends, relatives, co-workers, and neighbors etc.
I was making a sarcastic reference to another thread.
Old 02-17-06, 01:28 PM
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Originally Posted by Numanoid
I was making a sarcastic reference to another thread.
Oh. Got it. Nevermind.
Old 02-17-06, 03:31 PM
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In my city, the zoning board can force a formerly-grandfathered land owner to conform to the new neighborhood standards/new zoning if the continued existence is a danger or hardship to the surrounding neighborhoods (a purposely vague standard).

The city of Dallas just used this process to kick a bunch of poor people out of their trailer homes (in a trailer park that had been in that location for 65 years and which had been grandfathered as a mobile home park "forever" in 1952) after the surrounding neighborhood was bought up and used to build expensive homes.

If your local zoning laws are anything like those in Dallas, the shooting range is not long for this world.

And it doesn't seem right given that the gun club was there first and the people who moved in were made aware of it, but what seems right doesn't enter in to it, apparently.
Old 02-17-06, 03:46 PM
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The people that moved there knowing the situation need to shut up. That's like ordering hot coffee and being upset because it's hot.
Old 02-17-06, 03:54 PM
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The city, town, etc... owns your land you just get lifetime rental. Zoning is vague, often inequitable and overall sucky. But that's reality. In theory they zone for the greater good of the area.
Old 02-17-06, 03:56 PM
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Originally Posted by Numanoid
I was making a sarcastic reference to another thread.
The right thing to do would be to copy down license plates and slash tires .
Old 02-17-06, 04:06 PM
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Originally Posted by Bushdog
In theory they zone for the greater good of the area.
"The greater good" often being defined as whatever the richest people or largest political contributors want.

The irony to me is that cities like Dallas spend millions of dollars to mess with zoning laws (while opening the city up to major opportunities for corruption, which judging from all the FBI inquiries and investigations down at City Hall, is a significant problem) and have ended up with something not markedly different than Houston which has no zoning laws.

Last edited by BigDan; 02-17-06 at 04:10 PM.
Old 02-17-06, 04:24 PM
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There's a skeet shooting club right near here. You can hear them practice sometimes. I don't mind it because I figure it makes me adaptable to live in Baltimore if I ever need to move there.
Old 02-17-06, 05:21 PM
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Originally Posted by kvrdave
It may depend on each state, but I know that to get a license to sell guns around here, there are pretty strict guidelines. If the person who wrote the letter is factual, all they would need to do is give a formal complaint to the authorities who would investigate whether or not the gun shop is complying. My guess is that they are in compliance, but the letter writer needs to start a ground swell, and that won't happen with a letter that says, "The gun shop is in compliance and we need to do something about it."

What has actually happened according to the letter is that the city ordered the gun club to stop selling guns and to partially shut down it's operations. It says the order was then upheld by the board of zoning. The gun club has now appealed to the county superior court and these neighbors are trying to get everyone involved in influencing the outcome of the appeals case so the order will stand and to try and stop any future appeals.

My question, why on earth did the board of zoning allow residential development next to a gun club in the first place? The area has yet to be annexed into the city so they don't collect property taxes or have any gain from it. Shouldn't the city planners have done a better job?

Originally Posted by Bushdog
The city, town, etc... owns your land you just get lifetime rental. Zoning is vague, often inequitable and overall sucky. But that's reality. In theory they zone for the greater good of the area.
It's becoming apparent to me that this is the new reality in the US. Property rights seem to be becoming a thing of the past. This was my biggest concern. My home is not nearly as expensive as some of the newer ones that are being planned for this area. What if my property is deemed in the future as an "eyesore" by someone who wants to get rid of me and take my space? With zoning boards operating in a wild west fashion, it seems entirely possible that someone could be forced out upon any whim.

Originally Posted by Phil L.
This is one of the problems that occurs as more and more 'country' is grabbed up by developers to build housing. The people that buy these homes often then want the 'country' to conform to them and their new lifestyles. They suddenly discover that there are actually things like deer and bears out there. Once the deer start eating their $20,000 worth of landscaping and the bears roam through their backyards looking for food these new residents freak and immediately want all animal life killed. They moved into the animals homes but once they decide that the once cute animals are inconvenient, they want them removed by whatever means available.
I agree with this. We had coyotes in the area because it was formerly woods and now I see animal control called out to deal with not only them, but deer, skunks, even rabbits. It's sad. I had trees and brush in my backyard left over from the woods. I preserved it as a backyard habitat. My neighbor said I needed to clean the place up. I said I didn't want to because I was preserving habitat. The response was "the birds will just find somewhere else to go". People don't seem to think about these things.

Last edited by shifrbv; 02-17-06 at 05:36 PM.
Old 02-17-06, 06:35 PM
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Originally Posted by shifrbv
My question, why on earth did the board of zoning allow residential development next to a gun club in the first place? The area has yet to be annexed into the city so they don't collect property taxes or have any gain from it. Shouldn't the city planners have done a better job?
Just my opinion, but often zoning boards are made up of volunteers from random backgrounds, and rarely do they have a lot of planning sense. Same goes for city planners, though they do have the background, but are usually more concerned with the idea of future tax base.
Old 02-17-06, 06:38 PM
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This shit makes me very angry.

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