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Debate continues in Carroll over town-owned firing range

May 16, 2018
CARROLL — Discussion continued this week over a local town-owned property commonly used by citizens for firearms practice.

Business owner Jack Catalano first raised the issue last month, and requested that the Select Board end all gun use at the gravel pit, which is across the highway from a campground which he operates. Catalano has complained of noise, and disruption to his business, and argues that guests are disturbed by retorts and explosions so close to their vacation spot.

This week, citizen Adam Luth spoke up for the pro-range position in a letter to the Select Board. He explained that he considers the site ideally suited, and a favorite spot for teaching and practicing shooting sports:

"It offers an extremely safe location to enjoy the sport of shooting, sighting in a weapon for hunting season, and a place to teach our youth the safe handling of firearms," he said.

Luth, who was a firearms instructor for a Connecticut police department for 15 years, suggested that limited hours and days might alleviate concerns. He proposed as an example schedule Monday, Wednesday, Saturday, 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. He also pointed out that many residents without their own fields or berms, suitable for safe firing, rely on the town property to prepare for deer season.

Town Hall is exploring the legal implications of the current state of affairs, with special regard for potential liability. Inquiries will be made to the New Hampshire Municipal Association, which will hopefully provide guidance to the Board based on past, similar cases.

Members of the Select Board have cautioned against referring to the gravel field and berm as a "firing range" per se, in official town business.

"It is not a firing range," said Brian Mycko at last week's meeting.

Regardless, many citizens use it as one. Public Works Supervisor Greg Hogan reported that he frequently has to clean up the site, though posted signed have reduced the problem.

Town owned but largely citizen-operated, the site occupies a gray area between public resource and private activity. The Select Board will have to balance the interests of residents and visitors, hunters and campers, to arrive at a suitable solution. One possible compromise would be to limit use specifically during weekends and holidays outside the Spring and Fall hunting seasons, times when non-hunters are most likely to be in town.

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