September 18, 2020

Montville's Dufrat Corrects My Misinformation About Shooting Ordinance

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Last Update was 4:30pm
This morning I received comment from John Dufrat, chief warden of the Milo Light Nature Preserve in Montville, Connecticut, correcting me on information that I wrote about in yesterday’s blog.

At issue here is Mr. Dufrat’s attempt at pushing through an ordinance to regulate target shooting in the town. Dufrat’s comment asked that I would post a retraction to my statements and he also stated,

…..I am certain that will not occur.

Mr. Dufrat is half right and half wrong. I will reprint his comments here in a new blog so readers won’t have to go searching for his comments but I will not retract all of my statements. Here is Mr. Dufrat’s comments.

Mr. Remington:
I regret to inform you, that you have been supplied with incorrect information regarding the proposed ordinance in Montville, CT.
In the preamble of the ordinance it staes three times that the Town of Montville recognizes the rights of it’s citizens to target shoot within town.
Article IV of the ordinance specifically states:”
IV. This Ordinance is not intended to, nor does it, prohibit persons from exercising their constitutional rights with respect to gun ownership and self defense.”
It is absolute correct that this ordinance in NO way bans the ownership, possesion, transportation, or use of any firearm in Montville. It simply seeks to establish the same safety zone as the current hunting regulations.
The proposed ordinance does contain the same 500 foot minimum distance from a hunter to an occupied dwelling as does CT General Statute 26-66-1 (d). This General Statute has been in effect for many years here in Connecticut.
Section 26 of the General Statutes is the section of laws regulating the behavior of hunters. The General Statutes include a provision that the smallest parcell of land that can legally be hunted is 10 acres. The Montville ordinance does not require the 10 acre lot size for target shooting.
Additionally, the ordinance specifically states that existing target ranges and gun clubs within the town are NOT affected by the ordinance.
The individual shooting next to the preserve does so on a 2.36 acre parcel with his target area within 500 feet of 7 neighboring homes. Additionally, one of the main trails on the preserve is directly BEHIND his target area. Thus, he shoots on a lot roughly 1/5 the size the state recognizes as the smallest size safe to hunt on. Additionally, there are 7 homes within the 500 foot zone the state already considers the minimum safe distance with regard to firearms discharges. That is the issue here.
The shooter has been asked by the owners of the preserve to curtail his activities and has been asked by both the State and Town police to do so as well. Yet he continues. Currently, without an ordinance, the police cannot force him to stop, they can simply ask him to stop.
I regret you have been supplied with incorrect information. The information I have provided you with here is correct and is easily verifiable.
I would appreciate a retraction of your previous comments, however, I am certain that will not occur.
Thank you,

John Dufrat
Montville, CT

I will withhold further comment on the unknown contents of the proposed ordinance as what Mr. Dufrat has shared is the first I have seen of any part of the ordinance. Until I can obtain a complete copy, I will not further speculate on what its entire objective is.

However, as Mr. Dufrat has explained, the police have made attempts to get the target practicing stopped, unsuccessfully. I find it extremely odd that the state of Connecticut and/or the town of Montville have no legal recourse in preventing what, if discribed accurately, is a safety issue not a gun ordinance issue.

I believe and always have that there are better ways to deal with such issues than to begin ordinances that limit 2nd Amendment rights. With rights come responsibilities and a gun owner must be responsible in how they use that weapon.

Any laws enacted by Montville that the citizens feel are for the public safety, need to be done in a sensible manner. If this ordinance simply states that it is unlawful to discharge a firearm within 500 feet of another dwelling, that is not sensible. It needs to be specifically spelled out under what purposes someone discharges a firearm. An across the board prohibition on the discharge of a gun within 500 feet of another dwelling does take away a person’s right to self defense.

I don’t believe that the masses of people who decended upon the town hall are objectionable to public safety. There was a reason they came there. Is it because all of those people had incorrect information too? If so, then the town officials are not doing a very good job of informing its citizens.

If it is target shooting within 500 feet of another residence is what the townspeople say is not safe then make a law that states exactly that. Don’t use a backdoor anti-gun ordinance in hopes of deceiving the voters.

Tom Remington

Update: Mr. Dufrat has also commented on the first blog that I made in reference to this story. I will not reprint his comments but you can read them here.

All that I will further say is that Mr. Dufrat keeps saying this ordinance does not take away a person’s right to own a gun. I understand that as do the more than 100 people who came to the town council meeting. What they don’t see in this proposal is that they can discharge a weapon in self defense. This ordinance needs to specifically spelled out that target shooting and target shooting alone cannot be done within a specified distance of a residence.

I think that restriction in and of itself is useless and too vague. Dufrat points out that this ordinance does not effect two existing shooting ranges. What about future ones? 500 feet is quite a distance. If someone wanted to safely construct a shooting range on their property, which can easily be done well witin 500 feet of another residence, this ordinance would prohibit that.

In his second comment Dufrat points out that the NRA made its statements based on never having seen the ordinance and by talking only with the landowner who is doing the target shooting. I have no way of verifying either person’s statements – the NRA’s or Mr. Dufrat’s. The NRA claims they have asked for a copy and have been denied.

Perhaps Mr. Dufrat would be willing to email me a copy of the complete proposed ordinance.

Tom Remington

*Update – 11:20pm* According to the NRA-ILA website, a press release issued on Aug. 15, 2006, it stated the following:

The proposed ordinance would severely limit the rights of recreational shooters, or those who might be faced with using a firearm for personal protection, and would threaten to shut down safe shooting ranges. The proposal would also outlaw the discharge of a firearm “within 500 feet of an occupied building, near livestock, pets or people, or land designated as a nature preserve, conservancy or town park,” and would prohibit hunting and any recreational shooting by those under 16 that does not take place on an “authorized” range.

I am to assume that where the quotations are made this is from text in the proposed ordinance.

Tom Remington

*Update at 4:30 p.m.*
I fired off an email to the Town of Montville requesting a copy of the proposed ordinance. I must say I was pleasantly surprised to receive a copy in only about 3 or 4 hours. Thank you to Cathy Cubilla, administrative assistant to Mayor Joseph Jaskiewicz, for your prompt reply.

Below is a complete copy of the proposed ordinance.

Town of Montville
Ordinance Concerning the Discharge of Dangerous Weapons within the Town of Montville

WHEREAS, Connecticut state laws pertaining to the discharge of firearms and bows and arrows do not address safety concerns for those who wish to target practice; and,
WHEREAS, the Town of Montville seeks to provide for the safety of the general public and their pets and livestock within firing range of those who wish to practice target shooting; and,
WHEREAS, the Connecticut state laws do provide safety distances for hunters and the Town of Montville desires to employ those same safety precautions for those who wish to practice target shooting;
THE TOWN OF MONTVILLE HEREBY ORDAINS THAT:
I. No minor under 16 years of age shall discharge any firearm, rifle, CO2 gun, air gun, BB gun, sling shot, or bow and arrows, within the limits of the Town of Montville unless such discharge shall be in an authorized range for such purposes and in the presence of and under the supervision of the parent or legal guardian of such minor or a duly qualified instructor.
II. Except where permitted by state law, no person shall discharge any firearm, rifle, CO2 gun, air gun, BB gun, sling shot, or bow and arrows outdoors within five hundred (500) feet of: 1) an occupied dwelling or a building that houses domestic animals or livestock or is used to store flammable or explosive materials; 2) where persons, livestock, pets and other domestic animals are present; and 3) lands designated as nature preserves or conservancies, public parks or hiking trails, school grounds, public highways, and any and all other public places.
III. Any person in violation of this ordinance, or any parent, legal guardian or instructor permitting violation by a minor less than sixteen years of age shall be fined Ninety ($90.00) Dollars. Each day such violation is committed shall be deemed a separate offense.
IV. This Ordinance is not intended to, nor does it, prohibit persons from exercising their constitutional rights with respect to gun ownership and self defense, nor is this Ordinance applicable to qualified shooting ranges staffed by certified firearms safety personnel. A qualified shooting range is one that has been established and is in compliance with all state, federal and local laws and regulations governing same.
V. This Ordinance shall be effective thirty (30) days after its adoption.

Having this copy sure does make life easier. Let’s take a quick look. Section I immediately restricts anyone under the age of 16 from firing a weapon, as listed above, within the town limits unless they are in an authorized shooting range AND with an adult or qualified person.

When the two “authorized” shooting ranges that the town is exempting for this purpose are closed at some point in the future, no kid under sixteen will be allowed to shoot a gun under any circumstances. The wording of this ordinance would clearly prohibit any new constrution of qualified shooting ranges within the town limits of Montville. This limitation is saying that kids under 16 have no rights in accordance with our Constitution and this is blantantly wrong.

Section II gets worse. It essentially takes away the right of anyone who needs to defend themselves with a gun, unless of course they fulfill the requirements of this ordinance which essentially says you have to be 500 feet from anything or anybody and in some cases where somebody or something might be. You will have every right to point your gun at a would be perp but you don’t have the right to pull the trigger. There is nothing in this provision that differentiates that the objective of the ordinance is to regulate target shooting. It needs to state it clearly and not hope that the courts figure out what the intent was.

Section IV makes an attempt at spelling out the intentions but I’m not sure it is good enough. It says “This Ordinance is not intended to, nor does it, prohibit persons from exercising their constitutional rights with respect to gun ownership and self defense…”

This is far too fuzzy for my liking and I would strongly urge all citizens of Montville to oppose this ordinance as it is written.

Perhaps it is the intent of Mr. Dufrat and Mayor Jaskiewicz to protect the citizens of Montville but I think the wording of this ordinance is not protecting the 2nd Amendment rights of its people.

Tom Remington

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