It’s not 2nd Amendment guarantee

Published 8:07 pm Tuesday, June 28, 2016

    You know that the debate over guns in this country has been elevated from irrational to absurd when the construction of an outdoor gun range is framed as a Second Amendment issue.

    The Virginia Citizens Defense League would have us believe that the Isle of Wight Board of Supervisors cannot turn down a shooting range where would-be assault rifle experts can shoot their AR-15s without violating said shooters’ Second Amendment rights. Really?

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    The logic of the VCDL is that by denying the region’s gun owners a place where they can shoot their weapons, the county would essentially be abridging their constitutional right to own anything that shoots and shoot it anytime and anywhere they want.

    Sorry, folks, but it’s just not so.


    The U.S. Supreme Court ruling that the Second Amendment gives individuals constitutional protection to own a gun opened the door to this wacky phase of the gun debate. However, the justices, even gun lovers’ much beloved, and now much lamented, Antonin Scalia, said quite clearly that the ruling did not prevent the regulation of gun ownership. It just provides for it.

    Whole communities, including Smithfield and Windsor, continue to restrict and in some instances, downright bar, the use of guns. You can own it. Just don’t shoot it here.

    And at no time has any court said that gun owners’ rights are abridged if a community decides it does not want a gun range.

    Gun ranges are about property rights, not gun rights, and state law as well as a body of court opinions give local government the right to regulate property use in many ways. Many specific uses, including gun ranges, can be approved or denied for many reasons, and a conditional use permit is often needed to establish a use, as it is here.

    The biggest complaint about gun ranges is noise. We are used to the ambient background noise of guns in Isle of Wight, but not many of us would honestly like to have the sounds of guns firing next door all day and all week long. That’s why gun range owners try to find locations well away from neighbors.

    Safety issues are also raised during gun range debates. They can often be addressed. But if the range is outdoors, and close to neighbors, as it is in this instance, the repetitive sound is a tough one to make disappear.

    So the issue of K-9 Interdiction’s application for a gun range permit comes down to zoning and is really an issue between neighbors, with the Board of Supervisors serving as arbiter.

    But thanks to the intervention of gun rights folks yelling Second Amendment, this thing has gotten pretty crazy. One of the lead opponents of the range is Volpe Boykin, who lives across the road from the K-9 property. Boykin is a frequent letter writer to this newspaper. He’s a retired police officer, a private investigator and a believer in self-protection. He is a card-carrying NRA member and, ironically, one of the VCDL’s 6,400 dues-paying members. He is absolutely not “anti-gun.”

    Boykin and his neighbors just enjoy the peace and quiet of living in Walters, and they don’t want to lose that. It’s up to the Board of Supervisors to decide whether a full-scale commercial gun range will damage that environment.

    But that decision doesn’t have any thing to do with gun rights — not one whit.