Shooting range near school?
Tue, 24 May 2011 21:08:47 GMT —
UPDATED: May 31 at 6:03 p.m.
The debate over whether to build a gun range in Rural Pike County, Missouri should come to a conclusion by the end of the month. That's the word from a plaintiff in the case against the range. The area under question is near Highway WW about a mile from Clopton High School west of Clarksville.
Residents met with the developers in court Tuesday morning, asking for a permanent injunction. The developers, John Wall and Matthew Chase, are two St. Louis attorneys representing themselves. They have filed a motion to dismiss the injunction. Circuit Court Judge Rachel Bringer is set to make a ruling on a temporary injunction by June 3. If she rules in favor of it, a final ruling on the permanent injunction will take place June 22.
Ed O'Brien's residence is next door to the property.
"I just don't want to get shot. Anything can happen. We're fearing the worst," said O'Brien. In regards to the walls separating the gun range from neighboring lands, O'Brien says, "you can see the sky behind the targets and that's not right. This isn't the safest place."
Janet Myers Schaefer is a family practice physician and farmer with property next to the potential gun range. She says she's spent many sleepless night concerned over the issue.
"I'm concerned over the loss of property value in our area. The range would impair our finances, too," said Schaefer. She raises and trains horses on her farm. She says the sound of inconsistent gun fire would disrupt the training of her horses. That, in turn, would hamper her business.
Dale Schaefer's lived on his farm for 48 years. Only a fence separates his land from the land in question. He, too, is concerned over the property value depreciating. He took the stand with a concern over the direction the gun range would aim. His residence would be in the path of any stray bullets.
"My main concern is safety," said Bonnie Stone, who lives next to the school.
She's one of many Pike County residents who voiced that concern on the stand Tuesday.
"Children should not have to have anxiety about going to school and getting shot, or being distracted by gun shots," said Nick Myers, who lives less than half a mile north of the property.
"None of our plaintiffs are anti-gun. They all own guns and fire guns. They just think this is an inappropriate place and an inappropriate way to be shooting directly at the school," said Attorney Margaret Black.
The defense claims they have the law on their side..saying the gun range would be located more than a mile away from the school's front door. The law requires a distance of only 100 yards from the next residence. But resident still worry over stray bullets from the range.
"If there was a ricochet, it would lose so much power, there'd be no harm," said Defense Attorney John Wall.
Wall says the situation is no different from these property owners firing off guns on their own land. Residents say otherwise.
"The gun range is completely different than a father teaching his child to shoot a .22 at a soda can or a clay pigeon," said Nick Myers.
The defense says their way is actually safer.
"We're not going to have an open field of fire shooting range. It will be supervised at all times with a very low student to teacher ratio," said Wall.
Another concern among residents?
"The defense claims that it's just ambient noise, but it's not true. You can hear gunshots from the school property, you can hear them from my house," said Myers.
"We're going to make their police officers safer and better trained. We're not going to be a noise nuisance and there's really no to little chance of stray bullets getting anywhere," said Wall.
We want to hear from you! Should a shooting range find a home across the highway from a school? Take our poll below and sound off on our Facebook page here .KHQA's Brooke Hasch contributed to this story on Tuesday, May 31. -------------
UPDATED: May 25 at 1 p.m.
Plans for a gun range in rural Pike County, Missouri have local residents up in arms. Developers want to build a firearms school that would train military defense contractors and security workers.
But local residents are dead set against it.
Curt Mitchell, Neighbor, Pike County Eastern District Commissioner said, "This is just not safe to have across the highway adjacent to the school."
We tried to speak with one of the two developers St. Louis attorneys John Wall and Matthew Chase at the time of this story. But only Wall was available to give us this limited comment. I talked with Wall during a court hearing Tuesday. He said at that time the gun range is nothing to be concerned about. He also said the gunfire will be minimized and that both developers are willing to work with residents to alleviate their concerns to be good neighbors.
After our story originally aired Tuesday, I received an e-mail from Wall, with more explanations. They are included in this story.
Gun Range Developer John Wall disagrees with calling the firing range across the street from the school. He says the property is nearly 400 acres and the range is situated more than a mile from the school on the other side of a large ridgeline."
Missouri State Law requires guns to stay 100 yards away from schools.
Wall added, "Targets are placed in front of the 100 ft. plus tall ridgline which safely absorbs the bullets."
Ed O'Brien lives next door to the property. He knows there are several gun ranges planned for this property including a sniper area. He says two of the proposed pistol and automatic gun ranges would have shooters firing in the direction of the school district's sports fields. He says the ridgeline doesn't go all the way across the proposed firing area, which could put others in danger.
What put you on edge?
O'Brien said, "Initially, just the thought of the volume of sound, noise and disturbance. Then after seeing what they proposed, my concern was more about ricochets or accidental firings.
But Wall disagrees, "No active range nor any proposed ranges shoot directly toward the school. The school lies at nearly a 40-45 degree arc away from the line of fire."
Clopton Superintendent Mark Harvey says ricochets are a concern, so, too, is the noise.
Harvey said, "Depending on the types of armament, and types of weapons, there are different concerns that exist. If there are a lot of loud noises we know that is a distraction in our learning environment. And our goal is to keep our learning environment as peaceful and as calm as possible."
The school isn't the only concern for residents. They say gunfire and potential grenade blasts could distract passersby, motorcyclists and bikers as well as runners and could potentially cause more accidents on this stretch of road.
That's not all, some folks in the area work overnight and sleep during the day. There's also a babysitter in the area. All are concerned about the disturbance of gunfire. Also since trainees would learn nighttime skills as well, gunfire also *could* be a problem at night.
There also are concerns about what it would do to livestock in the area.
Mitchell said, "These things could startle herds of livestock even and there's a lot of things about this that can happen and probably will happen."
But Developer John Wall says there is no threat of excess or damaging noise.
Wall said in an e-mail, "Our noise expert, a retired McDonald Douglas Engineer on the Gemini Space Capsule, measured the noise produced by the firearms used at the range. At the O TMBrien property line, the noise is less than 40 decibels. Less noise than produced by a sneeze or cough or Mr.. O'Brien's tractor. At the second gate entrance across from the school, the noise is nearly inaudible and cannot be detected above ambient noise by sensitive equipment."
According to some court documents, the land is owned by Patti Deutsch of St. Louis. But Wall contests Patti Deutsch does not own the farm. He says it is owned by Brookhill Farm II, LLC. It is leased long term to Asymmetric Solutions, LLC the manager of the property and operator of the range. This is a point of contention in the court case to stop the construction on the gun range.
But people in the area say the problem is this -- after construction begins, neighbors won't have any recourse under Missouri law. That's why they say now is the time to stop it dead in its tracks.
Residents are taking the developers to court asking for a permanent injunction. The attorneys are representing themselves and have filed a motion to dismiss the injunction. A portion of the case was heard Tuesday in Hannibal.
Circuit Court Judge Rachel Bringer delayed it until later this month.
In the meantime, we want to hear from you! Should a shooting range find a home across the highway from a school? Take our poll below and sound off on our Facebook page here .
Two St. Louis area attorneys want to build a shooting range across Highway WW from Clopton School west of Clarksville.
A judge filed a temporary injunction sought by opponents, including Pike County Commissioner Curt Mitchell, and Judge Rachel Bringer was to hear arguments for a permanent injunction in Ralls County Tuesday.
The land is owned by Patti Deutsch of St. Louis. The attorneys who want to build the range are John Wall and Matthew Chase.
KHQA's Melissa Shriver will be bring you more details on this when Judge Bringer adjourns for the day, so check this story later and watch KHQA's Evening News at 6 p.m. and KHQA's Late News at 10 p.m.
In the meantime, we want to hear from you! Should a shooting range find a home across the street from a school? Take our poll below and sound off on our Facebook page here .