Pro gun group urges support

Published 1:07 pm Wednesday, June 22, 2016

Citizens Defense League said shooting range is a Second Amendment issue

By Diana McFarland

Managing editor

A state-wide gun rights group is rallying its members to push for support of the proposed public outdoor shooting range in Walters.

The Virginia Citizens Defense League’s mass email was sent to its members, including Volpe Boykin, who is leading the opposition to the plan proposed by American K-9 Interdiction.

The Board of Supervisors have also been “carpet-bombed” with form letter-style emails from VCDL members, said Windsor District Supervisor Joel Acree.

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Acree said he’s received more than 100 as of Friday and cannot find one from an actual Isle of Wight resident. {mprestriction ids=”1,2,3,4,5,6″}

Carrsville District Supervisor Rex Alphin received about 80 in two days.

The suggested message from the VCDL to the supervisors stated, “In this age of urban sprawl, public shooting ranges provide a valuable service to gun owners by giving them a way to enjoy the shooting sports, while also supporting their Second Amendment rights.  This shooting range will also bring more customers to Isle of Wight businesses.”

Acree said he doesn’t care what people from other localities think as he works for the residents of Isle of Wight.

K-9’s application for a conditional use permit goes before the Board at its July 21 meeting.

Boykin is annoyed because he is being portrayed as an “anti” in the call to action — which he said is a code word for anti-gun supporters.

Boykin is a member of the VCDL and the National Rifle Association — mostly to keep up to date with current gun laws in other states and localities, as he is a retired police detective.

“It’s not an anti-gun issue,” said Boykin, who also has his own personal shooting range on his property, which is located near the proposed shooting range.

The VCDL claimed opponents “painted all kinds of wild, ridiculous and off-the-wall scenarios to show the range would be a bad thing to have in the area,” according to the call to action.

VCDL President Philip Van Cleave said it’s a Second Amendment issue because “the right to keep and bear arms wouldn’t mean much if you had no where to practice.”

Residents living near the proposed shooting range, and who packed the May Isle of Wight Planning Commission meeting, brought up concerns about the potential for excessive and prolonged noise, the effect on residential property values, traffic overburdening a narrow country road leading to K-9, lead abatement from spent ammunition and the safety of nearby residents as the military-style weapons being proposed for use have long-range capability, as well as the type of people the range will attract. Many who spoke during the public hearing were former military and gun owners.

The Planning Commission recommended denial of the application.

Meanwhile, American K-9 Interdiction is under a cease and desist order by Isle of Wight County as it appears it began operating a public outdoor shooting range before the necessary approvals were obtained.

Van Cleave said his organization is currently undecided about plans to attend the July 21 meeting and he plans to meet with Boykin in the next week or so.

Alphin is anticipating an orderly meeting where all citizens have the opportunity to be heard.

Boykin believes the VCDL has been given erroneous information or simply failed to obtain the facts before sending out the call to action. 

He also thinks their actions may backfire.

“It (expletive) off the Board and nobody likes a bunch of outside wing nuts telling us what we need to have,” he said.

American K-9 Interdiction was approved in 2009 to operate a facility to train bomb-sniffing dogs for the U.S. military. However, as military operations wind down in the Middle East, its owners are seeking other uses for the property.  {/mprestriction}